Making cuts is easier than settling symbolic dossiers

12th June 2013, Comments 0 comments

Prime minister Elio Di Rupo PS hopes to round up the Butterfly Agreement’s final legal texts for state reform on Thursday night. Much remains to be done, but at this stage a positive atmosphere prevails. Today representatives of the majority parties, Groen and Ecolo meet with the premier and the two state secretaries of state reform, Servais Verherstraeten CD&V and Melchior Wathelet CdH, to renew talks on the new Financing Act. Today’s hurdle in the federal government is the range of proposals drafted by a technical task team, the so-called GT8 or Groupe de Travail task group, on the distribution of austerity efforts between the federal and regional governments. The scheduled date for the introduction of these divided powers will be another contentious issue. So far consensus has been reached on healthcare in Brussels. An extensive list has been drafted in respect of the ‘receiving entities’ and the distribution of healthcare services among the various institutions. One of the powers that could fall under the Brussels Common Community Commission GGC made up of French-speakers and Flemings is maximum billing for health care patients. Others, such as institutions, will probably be allocated to the French or Flemish Community, with Dutch hospitals being devolved to the Flemish Community, for example. A third option is to put it under the control of one of the two communities in collaboration with the GGC. It is being said that the French-speaking interlocutors are more inclined towards giving powers to the GGC while the Flemish prefer to allocate them to the Flemish Community. But, as one of those present sums up the reason why talks are set to gain momentum despite the complex nature of the discussions: “It’s no longer a matter of symbols, but cents. Cents can be divided into two, three or four but not symbols.”

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