James Arthur Photography

Corona emergency: experts clash with politicians

Prof Dr Erika Vlieghe, the chair of the panel of experts (GEES) advising Belgian governments on corona measures, has bowed out of the security council, where all decisions on corona measures are taken jointly by the federal and devolved governments.  The expert in infectious diseases is keen to put clear blue water between herself and the politicians that take the decisions.

The politicians decide and the experts advise, but Prof Vlieghe no longer wants people to have the impression she is involved in any final decisions.  Tensions have been mounting between experts and the political class in recent weeks as one expert after the other indicated that the politicians were failing to respond adequately and quickly enough to the serious character of the present situation.  Prof Vlieghe will now no longer attend meetings of the security council in person. 

The last straw was – according to Prof Vlieghe – the impression given by Flemish PM Jan Jambon (nationalist) that she agreed to maintaining the number of people you are allowed to be in close contact with over the course of one week, dubbed contact bubble, at 15. The experts advised that the number be reduced to 10.

“Healthy co-operation this is no longer” she said. “This is no longer a sound structure in which to collaborate.”

Mr Jambon has meanwhile apologised to Prof Vlieghe. Talks are planned between Prof Vlieghe and federal PM Wilmès to discuss the expert’s future role.

Top stories