Maggie De Block

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Maggie De Block
Maggie De Block 2016.jpg
Minister of Health
In office
11 October 2014 – 1 October 2020
Prime MinisterCharles Michel
Sophie Wilmès
Preceded byLaurette Onkelinx
Succeeded byFrank Vandenbroucke
Minister of Justice
In office
25 July 2014 – 11 October 2014
Prime MinisterElio Di Rupo
Preceded byAnnemie Turtelboom
Succeeded byKoen Geens
State Secretary of Asylum, Migration, Social Integration, and Poverty Reduction
In office
6 December 2011 – 11 October 2014
Prime MinisterElio Di Rupo
Preceded byMelchior Wathelet (Asylum and Migration)
Philippe Courard [fr] (Social Integration and Poverty Reduction)
Succeeded byTheo Francken (Asylum, Migration, and Reduction of Administrative Burden)
Elke Sleurs (Poverty Reduction, Fraud Combat, and Science Policy)
Minister of Asylum and Migration
In office
9 December 2018 – 1 October 2020
Prime MinisterCharles Michel
Sophie Wilmès
Preceded byTheo Francken (As State Secretary of Asylum, Migration, and Reduction of Administrative Burden)
Personal details
Born (1962-04-28) 28 April 1962 (age 58)
Merchtem, Belgium
Political partyOpen VLD (2007–present)
VLD (1999–2007)
Alma materFree University of Brussels, dutch

Maggie Celine Louise De Block ([ˈmɛɡi sɛˈlin luˈis də ˈblɔk], born 28 April 1962) is a Belgian physician and politician of the Open VLD[1] who has been chairing her party's group in the Chamber of Representatives since 2020.[2]

De Block served as Minister of Social Affairs and Health in the governments of Prime Ministers Charles Michel and Sophie Wilmès from 2014 until 2020.[3] Following a reshuffle on 9 December 2018 to prevent the government's collapse, she additionally resumed responsibility for Asylum and Migration.[4]

Early life and career[edit]

Maggie Celine Louise De Block was born in Merchtem, Province of Brabant (present-day Flemish Brabant) on 28 April 1962.[5] She was the first of three children born to Jan De Block who worked at the Belgian railway company the NMBS/SNCB. After her first brother was born, her mother became a housewife to care for the children. When Maggie was seven her father died in a car accident. Five months later her mother gave birth to Maggie's second brother who they called Jan after their father.

De Block went to the former secondary school Koninklijk Lyceum (now Lyceum Martha Somers Brussel) in Laeken. After her graduation, she studied medicine at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Still a student in 1982, De Block married[5] Luc Asselman. They have two children.[6] She graduated as a family doctor.[5][6]

Political career[edit]

Member of Parliament, 1999–2011[edit]

In 1999 De Block nominated herself for the federal election as member of the liberal party Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten also known as VLD.[5] During the elections, she was elected as a Member of the Belgian Chamber of Representatives for the electoral district Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde.

Early career in government, 2011–2014[edit]

Four years after the election she became Secretary of the Chamber of Representatives for four years. In 2010 De Block also became Chairman of the Infrastructure Committee until the following year.[6] De Block was chosen to become Secretary of State for Asylum, Immigration, and Social Integration in the newly Di Rupo Government which would be formed in December 2011.[7] On 6 December she becomes Secretary of State for Asylum, Immigration, and Social Integration and part of the Federal Government.[8][9]

In December 2012, De Block became the vice-chair of the Open VLD party.[10] In March 2013, she was voted woman of the year by readers of the francophone newspaper La Libre Belgique.[11] In 2013 and 2014 polls, she became the most popular Flemish politician, ahead of the Minister-President of Flanders Kris Peeters.[12]

De Block became Minister of Justice charged with Asylum, Immigration, Social Integration, and Poverty Reduction in the Di Rupo Government in July 2014.[13]

Minister of Health, 2014–2018[edit]

In the government of Prime Minister Charles Michel formed in October 2014, De Block became Minister of Social Affairs and Health. When taking the oath, she described the portfolio as "her dream".[14] Critics have said that she does not set the right example as Health Minister due to her obesity, and she has answered that "I know I'm not a model but you have to see what's inside, not the packaging".[15]

During her time as minister, De Block was involved in coordinating the Belgian response to the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.[16] In 2015, she led a joint effort of Belgium and the Netherlands to negotiate the purchase of remedies for rare diseases with pharmaceutical groups.[17] In June 2015, she signed a royal decree legalising certain uses of medical cannabis, which at the time only included Sativex oral spray for multiple sclerosis.[18]

By 2015, De Block was the most popular politician in Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, making her the most popular politician in Belgium.[19]

In 2018, under De Block direction as health minister, the strategic reserve of FFP2 masks was destroyed because of being out of date and not replenished.[20] She claimed she did not replenish them to save taxpayer money. This decision came under fire during the Coronavirus pandemic when the shortage of masks contributed to make Belgium one of the hardest-hit countries.[21][22]

In September 2018 De Block decided to introduce plain packaging for all tobacco products in Belgium.

On 9 December 2018, it was announced that De Block would be responsible again for Asylum and Migration, replacing Theo Francken.[4][23] She held the post in a previous government.[24] Her official title in thecaretaker Michel II government and in the succeeding Wilmès government was Minister of Social Affairs and Public Health, and Asylum Policy and Migration.[25]

During the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in Belgium, De Block oversaw the government's response. In May 2020, she called on European Union countries to be “united” in the distribution of protective face masks.[26] By July 2020, she publicly cited the lack of greater coordination with Belgium's neighbours – France, Germany and the Netherlands – as a “big concern”.[27]

De Block was not re-appointed to the government led by Alexander De Croo and instead became a regular member of the Belgian Parliament again.[28]

Honours[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Madame Maggie De Block". Belgium.be. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  2. ^ Maggie De Block devient cheffe de groupe Open VLD à la Chambre Le Soir, October 4, 2020.
  3. ^ Jillian Deutsch and Barbara Moens (September 30, 2020), De Block out as health minister in new Belgian government Politico Europe.
  4. ^ a b "Belgium sets up minority government after migration dispute breaks coalition". POLITICO. 2018-12-09. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  5. ^ a b c d "Levenslijn" [Lifeline]. maggiedeblock.be (in Dutch). Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  6. ^ a b c "Maggie De Block: Minister van Sociale Zaken en Volksgezondheid, en van Asiel en Migratie" [Maggie De Block: Minister of Social Affairs and Health, and of Asylum and Migration]. deblock.belgium.be (in Dutch). Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  7. ^ "Wie Heeft Welke Rol in Regering-Di Rupo?" [Who Has What Role in Government-Di Rupo?]. VRT NWS. 5 December 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  8. ^ "Regeringsonderhandelingen: Een Calvarie van 545 Dagen" [Government Negotiations: A 545-Day Calvary]. De Morgen (in Dutch). 10 December 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  9. ^ "Ms Maggie De Block Appointed as State Secretary for Migration and Asylum Policy". emnbelgium.be. 6 December 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Gwendolyn Rutten Nieuwe Voorzitter Open VLD" [Gwendolyn Rutten New Chairman of the Open VLD]. VRT NWS (in Dutch). 8 December 2012. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
  11. ^ "Maggie De Block, Femme de l'année de LaLibre.be". La Libre. 8 Mar 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Maggie De Block is populairste politicus". deredactie.be. 12 November 2013.
  13. ^ Maggie De Block CV. Retrieved on 2014-09-15.
  14. ^ "Maggie De Block: "Dit is een droom die uitkomt"". Het Laatste Nieuws. 11 October 2014.
  15. ^ "Is she too fat to be a Health Minister?". Mirror.
  16. ^ Robert-Jan Bartunek (October 17, 2014), Airport to screen baggage from Ebola-infected areas Reuters.
  17. ^ Robert-Jan Bartunek (April 21, 2015), Belgium, Netherlands plan joint purchase of rare disease drugs Reuters.
  18. ^ "Medical cannabis plantation offers patients new perspectives - Flanders Today". www.flanderstoday.eu.
  19. ^ lbo. "Maggie De Block nu ook populairste in Wallonië en Brussel". De Standaard (in Dutch).
  20. ^ Jim Brunsden and Mehreen Khan (March 25, 2020), Coronavirus crisis brings fragmented Brussels together Financial Times.
  21. ^ "Coronavirus : la Belgique, toujours en manque de masques, possédait un stock important mais l'a détruit". Le Monde.fr (in French). 25 March 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Coronavirus: former health minister slams mask destruction". The Brussels Times. 25 March 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  23. ^ Daniel Boffey (December 9, 2018), Belgium's government loses majority over UN migration pact The Guardian.
  24. ^ "Belgium's PM reshuffles cabinet after N-VA quits in migration row". dpa International. Retrieved 2018-12-11.
  25. ^ Belgian Federal Government. Retrieved on 2019-06-12.
  26. ^ Amie Tsang (March 7, 2020), E.U. Seeks Solidarity as Nations Restrict Medical Exports New York Times.
  27. ^ Philip Blenkinsop (July 10, 2020), Belgium sees summer dangers, but is better prepared, health minister says Reuters.
  28. ^ Jillian Deutsch and Barbara Moens (September 30, 2020), De Block out as health minister in new Belgian government Politico Europe.
  29. ^ arrêtés royaux du 21 mai 2014

External links[edit]

Media related to Maggie De Block at Wikimedia Commons

Political offices
Preceded by
Annemie Turtelboom
Minister of Justice
2014
Succeeded by
Koen Geens
Preceded by
Laurette Onkelinx
Minister of Social Affairs and Health
2014–2020
Succeeded by
Frank Vandenbroucke