Koen Geerts, the Mario Monti of the Wetstraat

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Koen Geens, former chief of the ministerial office of Flemish minister-president Kris Peeters CD&V, has been appointed federal finance minister following the resignation of federal finance minister Steven Vanackere. Geens is a full-blooded technocrat and does not belong to the Christian Labour Movement ACW as Vanackere did. Heis also a professor at the University of Leuven, president of the Thomas Moore colleges with a seat on the BNP Paribas Fortis board, and a member of the Corporate Governance Commission. He therefore can count on a business network of immeasurable value. This network was already very helpful when het was the chairman of Flanders in Action VIA, minister-president Kris Peeters’ CD&V programme to launch Flanders as one of the top achievers in Europe. Peeters and Geens share a history after all. Geens resigned however as his chief of staff in 2009 to focus on winning the rectorship of the university of Leuven. Mark Waer was eventually appointed, but that did not set him back as, according to those who know him well, he is defined by his unwavering drive to achieve. His new ministerial role is a dream come true, according to close sources. Politics has always been his passion, but an appointment in the federal government was never an option. Following his resignation in 2009, he told in an interview that he was not disappointed with politics, but added that “there was a world of difference between Flemish and federal policy levels”, saying: “Politics at federal level is, well, complex” and “Belgium is the most complex country I know. To engage in politics on a federal level you need to be an expert tightrope artist”. These prophetic words will surely come to play in his new role. With his heart still rooted in Flanders, he didn't hesitate for a moment during his phone calls with CD&V president Wouter Beke, his predecessor Steven Vanackere and his friend Kris Peeters on Monday night.

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