Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels united against Reynders
All Belgian ambassadors stay in Brussels now for the diplomatic days. It is the annual meeting of diplomats with the minister of foreign affairs, Didier Reynders MR, who presents the main lines of his foreign policy. One of the items on his latest policy document, the appointment of economic advisors in the diplomatic service, has met with severe criticism from the three regions. Foreign investment and trade is traditionally a regional competence, with the federal government assuming a supportive role with bodies like the Belgian Foreign Trade Agency that organizes trade missions in the company of the crown prince. Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters CD&V and his Walloon and Brussels counterparts Jean-Claude Marcourt PS and Benoît Cerexhe cdH have jointly announced their disapproval. In a joint letter to Reynders they mention how pleased they are with the fact that the federal diplomatic service intends to increase its support of the economic development and the regions, entitled to stimulate this development. They further stress the fact that the regions hold the legislative power over economic policy, including all related international tasks and in particular the promotion of international trade and the promotion of foreign investment." Peeters, Marcourt and Cerexhe all doubt "the federal government’s competence as far as the deployment of a network of economic advisors in the diplomatic arena is concerned and question the point of this new function, which will merely lead to a duplication of the existing functions of regional economic and trade attachés who act in line with the collaborative agreement between the federal government and the regions." Earlier this month Peeters expressed his opposition against the federal initiative in the Flemish Parliament.