Zaventem future hangs inbalance as talks continue

14th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

Updated 16 October 2005, BRUSSELS — After more than 12 hours, crucial talks to secure the future of Zaventem Airport in Brussels broke up on Saturday at about 3.30am without a deal being reached.

Updated 16 October 2005

BRUSSELS — After more than 12 hours, crucial talks to secure the future of Zaventem Airport in Brussels broke up on Saturday at about 3.30am without a deal being reached.

The Flemish government put up for discussion new proposals regulating flight dispersal, but Brussels refused to yield ground over its strict noise pollution regulations.

Talks will resume on 18 October, but Brussels Prime Minister Charles Picqué has promised not to impose fines in the meantime for any noise pollution breaches.

The Flemish proposal will now be assessed on a technical level in the lead-up to Tuesday's talks.

Federal Transport Minister Renaat Landuyt said there are four sticking points still up for discussion, but is confident a deal can be reached.

Going into the talks on Friday night, Landuyt admitted Brussels held the upper hand.

He also said negotiations will fail if Brussels wants to impose fines, saying: "People can't shoot and negotiate at the same time".

The Socialist SP.A minister's meeting on Friday with Brussels and Flemish government ministers was pivotal for the future of the city's international airport.

Brussels Appeals Court recently ruled the city was legally entitled to impose a fine of up to EUR 25,000 for every breach of noise pollution regulations.

The court gave the federal government a 15 October deadline to resolve the situation.

As the deadline approached prior to the rescheduling of talks, it had been suggested the fines could start to take effect after midnight on Saturday.

Landuyt had not expected a full accord to be reached on Friday, but hoped his compromise would provide sufficient ground to negotiate further. He hopes to reach a deal "step by step".

If not, the federal government will need to choose whether it will respect Brussels' noise pollution regulations — and the consequences for the airport's viability — or to simply pay the fines.

Originally published 14 October 2005

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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