State reform on agenda after 2007 election
12 July 2005, BRUSSELS — New discussions around State reform and relations between the nation's linguistic communities will be held in 2007, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has said.
12 July 2005
BRUSSELS — New discussions around State reform and relations between the nation's linguistic communities will be held in 2007, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt has said.
Federal leader Verhofstadt, Flemish Prime Minister Yves Leterme and Francophone Socialist (PS) chairman Elio Di Rupo agreed a month ago to discreetly prepare the institutional negotiations.
The talks will form the basis for the formation of the federal government after the election in 2007, newspaper 'De Tijd' reported on Tuesday.
The revelations by Verhofstadt's spokesman come after numerous calls for state reform were expressed by Flemish leaders on Monday, the annual 11 July Flemish Community Holiday.
Leterme and Flemish Parliament speaker Norbert de Batselier both diplomatically called for greater autonomy for the nation's linguistic regions, combined also with improved co-operation.
In response, Verhofstadt said talks will be held over the electoral representation in Brussel-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV), reform of the Senate and the transfer of powers to the regional authorities.
It was the first time the Belgian prime minister had mentioned the agreement reached a month ago between Leterme and Di Rupo.
Shortly after the BHV debacle — when the federal government averted collapse by postponing a decision on whether the electorate should remain bilingual — Di Rupo urged for a temporary end to talks around the nation's linguistic conflicts. But he is now in favour of renewed discussions.
"Politicians must not wait until the formation of the next government to tackle the relations between the linguistic communities. Responsible people from responsible parties must explore the terrain now," he said.
"That must first occur discreetly, without agenda and without timing. It can then lead to real negotiations. These can serve as a basis for the formation of a new government."
Leterme also confirmed on Monday that the formation of the federal government in 2007 was a good moment to initiate further state reforms.
And in a more diplomatic approach witnessed in previous years by Flemish leaders, Leterme sent a letter to French-language newspapers 'Le Soir' and 'La Libre' on Monday to convince Walloon that state reform was also good for the Francophone region.
His Francophone colleague, Socialist (PS) Wallonian leader Francophone Jean-Claude Van Cauwenberghe was also prepared for renewed dialogue. "But convince us that Walloon also has an interest [in the talks]," he said.
Despite the cautious hesitation, a more moderate tone was also witnessed in Le Soir and La Libre, Dutch-speaking newspaper 'De Standaard' reported.
Meanwhile, it appears the Forum for Institutional Reforms has met a premature end. Established last October, there appears little chance the forum will achieve very much due to the likelihood official talks will be postponed until 2007.
[Copyright Expatica News 2005]
Subject: Belgian news