Usually, the appointment of the Belgian candidate is linked to the formation of the federal government, when politicians are changing places. However, the formation of a federal government is in the doldrums, and the European Union wanted a decision to be taken by Monday.
All 27 EU members countries have to put forward their candidate, who will have to take part in a couple of tests later on before being accepted. Didier Reynders will follow in the footsteps of Marianne Thyssen, a Flemish Christian democrat. Charles Michel said the decision was made "after informal contacts with all democratic parties in the federal Chamber of representatives". He adds that there is no majority against Reynders.
The Francophone parties proposed one candidate, the Flemish parties didn't
The Flemish nationalists of N-VA have already voiced their anger about the choice of a French-speaking candidate. Federal MP Peter De Roover called the decision "unacceptable", saying that the Belgian Parliament should have had an official debate about this.
The VRT's political pundit Johny Vansevenant said that "the Francophone parties had one strong candidate, while the Flemings were battling it out among themselves", suggesting that this made the difference.
Meanwhile, for Didier Reynders (61) this is the culmination of a long career which started in the 80ies. Earlier, he missed the function of federal Prime Minister, while five years ago rumour had it he would become a European Commissioner before Marianne Thyssen took it. In the Belgian government, he was a Finance Minister and a Foreign Minister, among other things.
The former Flemish PM Geert Bourgeois was speaking on the subject this afternoon. He thinks it should have been a Flemish candidate, and may vote against Reynders in his new function as MEP if Reynders would not be convincing enough in defending the Flemish interests.