Expatica news

Goodbye, Guy

Many of the 27 EU leaders attending the European summit in Brussels had words of praise for the outgoing Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt (Flemish liberal). This EU summit will almost certainly be Mr Verhofstadt’s last as Belgian Prime Minister.

He is due to stand down on Thursday of next week, leaving the way clear for the Flemish Christian democrat Yves Leterme to take over on 23 March.

Mr Verhofstadt is Europe’s second longest serving head of government with only Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker having attended more EU summits.

39 summits under his belt

A special farewell reception was held in Mr Verhofstadt’s honour.

The VRT’s "Laatste Show Band" provided the entertainment for the around 50 guests.

Those attending included many journalists, as well as diplomats and ministerial collegues such as Karel De Gucht (Flemish liberal) and Didier Reynders (Francophone liberal).

There was also a special performance by the Flemish rock legend Arno.

Mr Verhofstadt was visibly moved and thanked everyone for coming.

Club Med

EU leaders meeting in Brussels have agreed to French proposals to improve cooperation between the European Union and other countries around the Mediterranean basin, most notable the Maghreb counties.

The Slovene Prime Minister Janez Jansa told journalists that the proposals had received the backing of all 27 EU heads of government.

Slovenia currently holds the presidency of the European Union.

The European Commission and the Presidency now has a mandate to work on a detailed cooperation plan between now and the next EU summit in June.

However, political commentators say that a measure of this summit’s success will be how far EU leaders are prepared to go in implementing the carbon emissions targets laid out for them by the European Commission.