Leterme forges ahead with negotiations

28th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

28 November 2007, BRUSSELS - Belgium's would-be premier, Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, continues to try to form a new government. The N-VA nationalist party, the coalition partner of the Flemish Christian Democrat CD&V, announced Monday that Leterme's proposals regarding state reforms were insufficient.

28 November 2007

BRUSSELS -  Belgium's would-be premier, Flemish Christian Democrat Yves Leterme, continues to try to form a new government. The N-VA nationalist party, the coalition partner of the Flemish Christian Democrat CD&V, announced Monday that Leterme's proposals regarding state reforms were insufficient.

Leterme has proposed creating a "convention" of federal and regional representatives to draw up a constitutional reform plan in autumn 2008. This would allow for the formation of a government that could concentrate on the day-to-day running of the country, and leave the devolutionary reforms for later.

Impasse is all about state reforms
The self-rule dispute has bedevilled efforts by Christian Democrat and Liberal parties from the Dutch- and French-speaking communities to form a government since they won a majority in elections on 10 June.

Francophone parties fear the Flemish demand for greater regional powers -- notably over taxation and social security -- will undermine national unity and threaten a break-up of Belgium.

"No guarantees for Flanders"
For coalition partner N-VA the latest Leterme memo is insufficient. According to the N-VA, such a plan would never be approved by a party congress.

For the N-VA to take part in the governing coalition, two thirds of the members present would have to vote in favour.

The party thinks there are not enough guarantees regarding the social-economic aspects of further state reforms, such as the ability for the regions to lower corporate tax or regarding social security and child allowance.

What is the Leterme memo?
The text contains 35 points regarding competencies that could be devolved to the Flemish Region, such as climate, energy, housing policy combined with fiscal deductions, employment policy, compulsory education, financing of old folks' homes and prices, and in the health sector: prevention and screening programmes.

A number of institutional reforms are also included in the memo, including a reform of the Senate, and electoral changes such as the abolition of compulsory voting.

A two thirds majority is needed for the transfer of competences to the regions.

[Copyright Flanders news 2007]

Subject: Belgian news

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