Ms Schauvliege had said that she had been in touch with State Security Service about the possibility that the weekly climate protests by schoolchildren were being manipulated by agitators. Ms Schauvliege was later forced to admit that there had been no such contacts.
Ms Schauvliege apologised for her lie. However, this didn’t serve to stop a storm of criticism.
The Flemish Christian democrats’ held a crisis meeting at their Brussels HQ on Tuesday afternoon. At a press conference on Tuesday evening and with her fellow Flemish Minister Hilde Crevits and the party chairman Wouter Beke at her side a tearful Ms Schauvliege announced that she was stepping down. Nevertheless, she will still be the first candidate on the party’s list for the Flemish elections in East Flanders.
"It was clear that over the past few weeks my person has been targeted. Over the past week I have been flooded with thousands of texts and e-mails. I couldn’t communicate in a normal way and I committed a slip of the tongue that resulted from my assuming an unchecked rumour to be true”.
With tears in her eyes Mr Schauvliege went on to say “The flow of criticism of course continued and it is difficult to continue as the minister responsible for the climate”.
Ms Schauvliege pointed to a number of measures that were in the pipeline and would benefit the battle against climate change and the environment in general. She added that it was best that she resign so as not to threaten the implementation of the measures.