4th Feb 2023

EU commissioner: Belgium could become the next Greece

Belgian EU commissioner Karel De Gucht has warned that his country could be in line to suffer a Greek-and-Italian-type loss of market confidence if it does not quickly form a new government.

"Italy and Greece have been saved for now because they will have a new government. It may very well be that the financial markets look around and say: 'Who's next?' And then I think that Belgium is one of the possible victims," he said on national TV on Sunday (13 November).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • Belgian EU commissioner De Gucht said that his country may be next (Photo: European Parliament)

Belgium has struggled to form a coalition government for the past 517 days – a world record – amid still-growing differences between its francophone south and Dutch-speaking north.

At the same time, it has the EU's third largest debt-to-GDP ratio after Greece and Italy: almost 100 percent.

Belgium was on Thursday reprimanded by EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn over the fact it still has not provided the European Commission with a national budget for 2012.

"Belgium needs to step up, and full 2012 budgets should be available by mid-December," he told reporters in Brussels.

Government negotiators had earlier on Monday tried to put forward a new budget plan to cut spending by €11 billion and to fall in line with EU deficit ceiling rules.

But disputes over policy details put off the move to a later date.

Acting climate minister Paul Magnette, of the french-speaking Walloon Socialist Party (PS) said that the so-called six-pack of EU rules on joint economic governance agreed to in September is nothing more than "a source of inspiration."

Acting foreign minister Steven Vanackere, of the Dutch-speaking christian democrats, called the comment "irresponsible" and said the socialists are not behaving "as a party that is going to have to provide the [next] prime minister," referring to Socialist leader Elio di Rupo.

"The stance of the European Commission is as such that these rules have to implemented. And if a country does not, the commission will impose a sanction of 0.1 percent of GDP," De Gucht added.

For his part, acting prime minister Yves Leterme promised that his team will draw up its own budget proposals by early December, shortly before he leaves the post to work for the OECD tink-tank in Paris.

"If the coalition negotiations keep dragging on, we'll have to look at ways how we can implement reforms of the labour market and pension system ourselves," he told the Dutch language daily De Standaard.

Belgian government talks unravel, again

Some Belgian politicians have started to call for an international mediator after the separatist Flemish party rejected the latest plan on restarting coalition talks.

Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by another 0.5 percent to a 14-year high, and expects to hike rates by another half percent in March. But what does that mean for the green transition?

Polish backpedal on windfarms put EU funds at risk

Draft legislation in Poland aimed at relaxing some of Europe's strictest laws surrounding onshore wind-turbines has been derailed by a surprise last minute amendment, which could put Poland back on a collision course with the EU.


More money, more problems in EU answer to US green subsidies

Industrial energy-intense sectors, outside Germany and France, will not move to the US. They will go bust, as they cannot compete in a fragmented single market. So to save industry in two member states, we will kill the rest?

Latest News

  1. Greece faces possible court over 'prison-like' EU-funded migration centres
  2. How the centre-right can take on hard-right and win big in 2024
  3. Top EU officials show Ukraine solidarity on risky trip
  4. MEPs launch anonymous drop-box for shady lobbying secrets
  5. Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'
  6. MEPs push for greater powers for workers' councils
  7. How Pavel won big as new Czech president — and why it matters
  8. French official to take on Islamophobia in EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Party of the European LeftJOB ALERT - Seeking a Communications Manager (FT) for our Brussels office!
  2. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  3. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains
  4. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  5. EFBWWCouncil issues disappointing position ignoring the threats posed by asbestos
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us