How useful are Dutch-Flemish trade missions?
Dutch foreign affairs minister Frans Timmermans PvdA considers it a logical decision that his prime minister Mark Rutte VVD and Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters CD&V accompany each other on the trade mission to South Africa which, according to Peeters, is scheduled to take place between 6 and 10 July. Addressing the Dutch-Belgian Association in Brasschaat on Monday, the socialist minister referred to the organisation of joint missions as “an indication of the mutual value and equality that exists between the Dutch and Flemish governments”, adding that he believed "the Netherlands and Flanders in fact formed a Flemish-Dutch delta, as "this was at least the view of Asian and Latin American trade partners". This enthusiasm is not shared by everyone, however, as Flemish port managers have shot down the whole idea of Peeters and Rutte on joint trade missions to promote their harbours. Eddy Bruyninckx, director-general of the Antwerp port authority and Joachim Coens, president of the Zeebrugge port authority, fail to appreciate the merits of such joint promotional exercises. Peeters, who is conducting an expansive Flemish foreign policy, previously clashed with federal foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders MR, who could not appreciate the fact that Peeters visited Libya and Morocco before him. Peeters, on the other hand, fails to agree with Reynders’ view that the Flemish minister-president should limit his missions to economic contacts and leave the political contacts to the federal minister of foreign affairs. Peeters insists that Flanders has political powers as well. On the other hand economic diplomatic initiatives by the federal level are not appreciated by the regions. Flanders and the Netherlands have collaborated on a number of fields, including the military and foreign policy. Like Reynders, Timmermans agrees to share a number of embassy buildings and services.