Saturday

23rd Feb 2019

535 days later: Belgium close to government deal

  • Di Rupo (c) is set to represent Belgium at the EU summit next week (Photo: fotospresidencia5)

The longest government formation in the history of democracy came to an end Wednesday evening (30 November) when Belgium’s politicians agreed the last details of an accord that will guide them for the remaining two-and-a-half years of their mandate.

A whole 535 days after citizens cast their votes in June 2010, the negotiators left the building with smiles on their faces but declined to comment with a final reading of the 185-page deal due Thursday.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“There is agreement about everything,” a text message read sent by one negotiator, reports financial daily De Tijd.

A new government is expected to be sworn in on Monday, after the six parties at the table - including socialists, liberals, and christian-democrats from both the French and Dutch-speaking regions - have consulted their members over the weekend.

Officially, it is not sure yet who will be prime minister. The different dossiers are expected to be distributed on Sunday evening. But there is little doubt that it will be Elio Di Rupo, leader of the Francophone Socialist Party, who will represent Belgium at the summit of European leaders next week.

A half-orphan of poor immigrant Italian workers, his story was dubbed “the American dream in Belgium” by a fellow government negotiator this week.

He will be the country’s second Francophone prime minister since 1974 and the world’s second openly gay holder of the highest office (after Johanna Sigurdardottir became prime minister of Iceland in 2009).

Markets, meanwhile, seem soothed. The yield on Belgian government bonds continues to drop from a dangerous 6% to a more sustainable 5% following a budget agreement at the beginning of the week.

EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn on Wednesday re-iterated his contentment with the agreement at the meeting of EU ministers of finance on Wednesday.

“We welcome the budget agreement that will bring back Belgium’s deficit back to 2.8 percent,” he said.

Di Rupo had planned to meet Rehn on Wednesday, but canceled due to lack of time. He did, however, meet French presidential hopeful and fellow Socialist Francois Hollande.

Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table

EU probes into Hungary and Poland on rule of law and democracy are back on the agenda of EU affairs ministers - but with little guidance from the Romanian presidency, without a clear idea where the procedures are headed.

Calls for Tajani's resignation over Slovenia, Croatia row

The European Parliament's Italian president referred to Croatia and Slovenia as former Italian regions at the weekend, sparking outrage. Although Antonio Tajani apologised, somer former leaders and MEPs are now calling for his resignation.

MEPs call on EU countries to deal with Hungary

MEPs who launched a procedure examining the democratic situation in Hungary last year now want member states to step up efforts. The government in Budapest meanwhile accuses MEPs of attacking Hungary over migration.

News in Brief

  1. May to meet Tusk on Sunday at Arab summit
  2. Report: Russia offered Italy's Salvini €3m for EU election
  3. EU and US could 'quickly' clinch mini-trade pact
  4. Belgium to gather evidence on Syria 'foreign fighters'
  5. Dozens of Tory and Labour MPs threatening to quit over Brexit
  6. UK will struggle on free-trade deals, EU says
  7. Juncker pledges climate action alongside Swedish activist
  8. Swedbank brings in external help on money laundering revelations

EU says Hungary's anti-Juncker campaign is fake news

The European Commission has branded the latest campaign by the Hungarian government as 'fake news', after Orban's government accused Juncker of pressing ahead with migration proposals that threaten the country's security.

Opinion

Italy will keep blinking in 2019

Italy's 'marriage of convenience' coalition government likes picking battles with Brussels. But with the economy now in recession, and deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini needing to keep the business lobby on board, expect Rome to blink first.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK
  2. Swedish activist urges EU to double climate goals
  3. EP budget chair seeks clarity on Saudi lobbying and College of Europe
  4. Microsoft warns EU on election hack threat
  5. Brexit talks to continue after May-Juncker meeting
  6. Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all
  7. EU commission appeals Dieselgate ruling
  8. 'No burning crisis' on migrant arrivals, EU agency says

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us