European leaders meet at a summit at Fort Napoleon

European leaders meet at a summit at Fort Napoleon

A European summit will be organized in Ostend on April 24. Our country takes the lead in organizing the Wind Turbine Energy Summit. “Ostende is one of the leaders in offshore wind power,” replies Mayor Bart Tommelen (Open VLD), who is satisfied with the choice of Ostend for several reasons.

The various security and city services are currently secretly preparing to hold a European summit on Monday 24 April in Ostend. It takes place in Oosteroever and is the most important meeting in the port city in recent decades. The summit follows the summit in Denmark’s Esbjerg, also a port city with a population of 70,000. There, EU leaders agreed in May 2022 to withdraw all stops in offshore wind power: the participating countries (around the North Sea) decided to cooperate more on offshore wind power. These agreements will be elaborated in more detail at the next summit.

The Offshore Energy Summit is a nice prelude to the Belgian presidency of the European Union in 2024. The last major ‘summit’ in Ostend dates back to March 2004, when Belgian ministers spent the weekend here in Raversside to talk about social affairs. This European summit is the largest for a seaside resort in decades.

European toppers

The conference will be attended by heads of government and their relevant ministers from the Netherlands, France, Norway, Denmark, the United Kingdom, Germany and Ireland. So people like French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak usually come to the city by sea. For our country, these are Prime Minister Alexander de Croo (Open VLD), Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Green) and North Sea Minister Vincent van Quickenborn (Open VLD).

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The central location for the meetings is the port of Ostend, where the visit will take place and the actual summit will take place in conference tents. Official ceremonies are also held there. In the evening, dinner will follow at Fort Napoleon. Duin en Zee will also take part in all, perhaps for the many journalists from all over Europe who will follow the summit.

Ostend and abroad

Bart Tomlin confirms the news: “As a mayor and advocate for renewable energy, I am of course very satisfied with this. At the request of the Prime Minister, the summit will take place in Ostend and I am glad of that. This is now being organized with my government. Ostend will cooperate fully and the working group has looked for Convenient location and possibilities. The police and security services are now fully prepared for this, because everything must be highly secured. This summit is very important for the image of the entire region, the economy and the hospitality sector.”

Mayor Bart Tomlin. © Peter Meinhoudt

He notes the importance of marine energy production for Ostend. “Our city is the center of blue energy. We have a pioneering role in this matter, thanks in part to my predecessor Johan Vande Lanotte (Vorwit). He was also Minister for the North Sea and continued politics with me and Ministers Van der Straeten and Van Quickenborn. However, this is not just Ostend’s story , but it is the story of the whole region. There is not enough space in Ostend to house everyone who will soon work in the blue economy.”

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the entire region

Tomlin notes the city’s unique position: “We are centrally located in the entire region. The wind turbines currently in the North Sea have the equivalent capacity of two nuclear power plants and by 2030 a few more wind turbines will be added. These will be crucial to the energy supply for our country.” After all, this is about our capacity, not imports.

“It may not be known enough, but Ostend is one of the leaders in offshore wind power in Europe. Our country has also been among the first three countries to switch more and faster to wind power for years. I remember there was a lot of opposition and reaction Passive at the time, but our pioneering role at that time is paying off now. We have the experience and the knowledge and everyone knows that Ostend plays an important role in the ‘Valley of the Flanders Wind.’ Ostend also plays a role in the European story: we are increasingly becoming a center for the construction and maintenance of windmills. It will be developed in the port of Ostend.”

(Edwin Fontaine)

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