An integrated decumul – a ban on the combination of different political functions -, a better salary for mayors and councilors and a smaller college of councilors. This is the reform that Minister Bernard Clerfayt (Défi) has proposed today in the Brussels Parliament.
The Brussels government approved the draft a few weeks ago, but Parliament has not yet considered it.
Local Government Minister Bernard Clerfayt gave more explanation in the Interior Committee on the decumul to be in force from 2024. The proposal for a decumul came in the wake of the Samusocial affair and was one of the political demands of Ecolo and Groen for the coalition agreement.
If the regulation is approved by MEPs, from 2024, Brussels’s mayors and councilors will no longer be allowed to sit in a parliament. The refusal applies to Brussels, the European Parliament and the Federal Parliament.
Today, there are ten Brussels rapporteurs or mayors who are also members of parliament. These are, for example, Vincent De Wolf (Mayor of Etterbeek and Member of the MR), Emir Kir (Mayor of Sint-Joost and Member of Parliament) or Ridouane Chahid (Mayor of Evere and Member of the PS).
The ten cumulative mayors or councilors are already significantly fewer than before, partly because a number of political parties have already introduced a cumulative ban. The ten can still extend their term, but from 2024 – when there are local, regional, federal and European elections – they will have to choose between parliament or local government.
At the same time, the lowest salaries for mayors and councilors are being raised. Wages are relatively low, especially in small municipalities.
From 2024, the salary of a mayor will no longer be linked to the statutory salary of a municipal secretary, but to a member of the federal parliament. This corresponds to 7,600 euros gross per month.
The government has not yet determined what percentage the mayors will receive in an implementing decree. The councilors there will receive 60 percent of the salary for a federal MP (for municipalities with less than 50,000 inhabitants) or 75 percent (for larger municipalities).
More reforms on the way
The Brussels government also wants more compact councils of councilors. Therefore, the nineteen in Brussels have to make do with one ship fewer. Municipalities in municipalities with less than 50,000 inhabitants may decide to do so with an even smaller team. In that case, they can raise the councilors’ salaries to 75 percent of the mayor’s.
The meeting fees of the municipal councilors will also increase slightly (100 to 200 euros per session). And there will be a severance pay for mayors and councilors who have no other job.
Minister Clerfayt said that other amendments to the Local Government Act are planned, including the scheme for mayors who are absent due to illness (e.g. the former mayor in Vorst’s long absence led to problems, ed.), But the draft executive orders will be announced later, discussed in the Folketing. A general state will also follow in the autumn on the reform of the institutional landscape in Brussels (what does the region do, and what do the municipalities do, ed.).
Discussion of the draft executive order is not yet complete today and will not continue until the end of this month.
The opposition has already indicated that they are not interested in it. Mayor Vincent De Wolf (MR), who has to choose between parliament and his municipality Etterbeek, thinks it is a stupid law. He believes that local representatives can actually enrich the parliamentary debate. And he fears that many experiences will be lost in parliament.
N-VA is on the same page. Mayors and councilors are close to the citizen and deserve a seat in the Folketing, says Member of Parliament Mathias Vanden Borre (N-VA). ‘Besides, a law is not necessary at all. If the voter does not want a mayor in the Folketing, it is enough that he does not vote for it. The mayor may just as well decide to choose his municipality. ”