"Agreement on state reforms soon"
20 November 2007, BRUSSELS - Prime Minister-in-waiting Yves Leterme believes he will be able to agree the broad outlines of a deal on state reforms in the course of the week.
20 November 2007
BRUSSELS - Prime Minister-in-waiting Yves Leterme believes he will be able to agree the broad outlines of a deal on state reforms in the course of the week.
Mr Leterme (Flemish Christian democrat) was speaking on Monday after the leader of the Francophone liberals, Didier Reynders, indicated that he was prepared to discuss this issue.
The former Flemish PM believes that Mr Reynders's demarche was a significant one and a breakthrough in the stalled talks on future state reforms. Until now Francophone parties have doggedly refused even to discuss the issue of state reforms.
Francophone Christian democrat leader Joëlle Milquet said earlier there was no question of state reforms because the proposed centre-right coalition did not possess the two-thirds majority needed to change the Constitution.
Until now Francophone parties have been eager to keep the issue of state reforms outside the formation talks proper backing plans for a Committee of Wise Men, both from government parties and the opposition, to settle the matter.
Lower income tax in Flanders?
Any breakthrough opens the way for Belgium's regions to gain significant fiscal powers. The regions should in future be able to vary income tax.
Mr Reynders spoke of introducing state reforms by the summer of next year.
This is music to the ears of the Flemish Christian democrat/nationalist alliance that is keen to present results on state reforms as soon as possible.
Political commentators say that Joëlle Milquet and her Francophone Christian democrats now hold the key for success in the government formation talks.
Mr Leterme will now have to convince Ms Milquet to agree to a state reform programme.
[Copyright Flanders news 2007]
Subject: Belgian news