“Dare to chance to an ambitious Europe, now more than ever.” that is the European slogan of SLP. A Flemish left liberal party that was formerly known as Spirit and for a short while as VlaamsProgressieven. They are part of the European Free Alliance (EFA). Nelly Maes is the first candidate on the European list of SLP. She has been the president of the EFA since 2004. Her presidency has a chance of renawel since she is SLP’s primal candidate. Although it could be that the party will no longer have representatives after the 7th of June. Their split with coalition partner SP.A brings them in danger of the electoral treshold. I present to you Nelly Maes.
Studies: secondary teacher training in the fields of Dutch, History and German
Former parties: Volksunie. Until there split. That changed into Spirit (now SLP) and NV-A. I have been a member of SLP since its birth.
What are the most important reasons why people must vote for you?
Maes: “Because of my experience as a Member of the European Parliament of which I have been a member since 1998. That’s also the reason why my party choose me as head of the list. SLP is the only party who has a European list that contains not only Flemish people but also people from other European regions. A vote for us means that we belong to Europe, we remain more Flemish than European but at the same time we are in favour of a more united Europe.”
Is this your first time Europe?
Maes: “No, I have been on the list ever since the members are chosen directly. Since then I have followed the evolution of Europe. At first I replaced Jaak Vandemeulenbroucke, after that I got directly elected for a period of five years for the Volksunie. After the Volksunie disappeared I got elected for Spirit.”
Is your programme for the regional elections very different from that for the European elections?
Maes: “Our programme has great attention for a different Europe, a Europe of the regions and of the people. Europe needs to show more solidarity, we need to have more transparency and we need to bring more unity in the diversity. Besides that SLP believes that the topic of energy is very important. We need to replace Euratom by the Fond Renewable Energy.”
Is the possible entry of Turkey high on your party’s topic list?
Maes: “Yes, Turkey is not ready to enter the Union. They don’t uphold to the necessary criteria like respecting human rights and the rights of minorities like the Kurds. On the other hand Turkey is strategic of great importance as a bridge between East and West. On longer term adhesion is possible if the Turkish people also want that.”
What are your 3 main goals as a Member of Parliament?
Maes: “1. To bring the European politics closer to the Flemish, but also solving the Flemish problems with the help of Europe.
2. Climate change and renewable energy.
3. To invest more in research, innovation and new jobs.”
If you could change one thing about the working of the European Union or European Parliament what would that be?
Maes: “The abolishment of the veto right so that we can all carry out a common foreign policy.”
Which principle of the European Union or European Parliament can’t ever be touched?
Maes: “Dutch always needs to stay a European language.”
Do you think the Belgian people underestimate the importance of Europe and its Parliament?
Maes: “Yes, a lot of people think that the European Parliament is just an advisory organ and that it doesn’t vote laws. While more than 70% of our Flemish and Belgian legislation finds its origin in Europe.”
If you could chose – regardless of the outcome of the elections – who gets to take the place of Barroso as President of the European Commission. Who would it be and why?
Maes: “The person who gets directly elected to by the whole EU. He or she must be one of the most competent. A sort of European Obama.”