Tag: Belgian

Finally, a Government After 652 Days: New Belgian PM Debuts at EU Summit | World News

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium’s new premier arrived for a European Union summit on Thursday fresh from his swearing-in ceremony, exultantly bumping elbows with fellow leaders as he told them his country finally had a proper government after 652 days.

Summits of the 27-nation EU had become used to a “caretaker” Belgian prime minister since December 2018 when the ruling coalition collapsed, leading to Belgium’s longest ever stretch without a government.

But Alexander De Croo, a Flemish liberal who had served as acting finance minister in the caretaker government since an inconclusive election 16 months ago, was sworn in on Monday just five hours before sitting down with EU leaders.

“I’m very happy to be here and to meet my colleagues for the first time, I’m happy to announce in Belgium we finally have a new government,” he told them.

Belgium’s deep decentralisation and linguistic divide between Flanders and the French-speaking Wallonia have often delayed forming a government. After a 2010 election, the country took a world record 541 days to assemble one.

During the latest hiatus, interim premier Sophie Wilmes was criticised for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the country that is home to EU institutions and NATO.

Beyond containing the pandemic, which has killed more than 10,000 people in the country of 11 million, De Croo’s seven-party coalition will face the challenge of reviving an economy that contracted by 14.5 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

“Our country, our economy, our companies cannot afford new generalised lockdowns,” de Croo told Belgian lawmakers on Thursday, promising environmental reforms, a rise in minimum pension payments, and an extension of paternity leave.

As he seeks a vote of confidence in the Belgium parliament on Saturday, his government has attracted attention for being the country’s first gender-balanced one. Wilmes became Belgium’s first female foreign minister while women were appointed as interior and defence ministers for the first time too.

Green EU lawmaker Petra de Sutter became the first transgender federal minister, landing a deputy premier job in charge of state-owned companies and public administration.

(Reporting by Marine Strauss; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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New Belgian PM debuts at EU summit

By Marine Strauss

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Belgium’s new premier arrived for a European Union summit on Thursday fresh from his swearing-in ceremony, exultantly bumping elbows with fellow leaders as he told them his country finally had a proper government after 652 days.

Summits of the 27-nation EU had become used to a “caretaker” Belgian prime minister since December 2018 when the ruling coalition collapsed, leading to Belgium’s longest ever stretch without a government.

But Alexander De Croo, a Flemish liberal who had served as acting finance minister in the caretaker government since an inconclusive election 16 months ago, was sworn in on Monday just five hours before sitting down with EU leaders.

“I’m very happy to be here and to meet my colleagues for the first time, I’m happy to announce in Belgium we finally have a new government,” he told them.

Belgium’s deep decentralisation and linguistic divide between Flanders and the French-speaking Wallonia have often delayed forming a government. After a 2010 election, the country took a world record 541 days to assemble one.

During the latest hiatus, interim premier Sophie Wilmes was criticised for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic in the country that is home to EU institutions and NATO.

Beyond containing the pandemic, which has killed more than 10,000 people in the country of 11 million, De Croo’s seven-party coalition will face the challenge of reviving an economy that contracted by 14.5 percent in the second quarter of 2020.

“Our country, our economy, our companies cannot afford new generalised lockdowns,” de Croo told Belgian lawmakers on Thursday, promising environmental reforms, a rise in minimum pension payments, and an extension of paternity leave.

As he seeks a vote of confidence in the Belgium parliament on Saturday, his government has attracted attention for being the country’s first gender-balanced one. Wilmes became Belgium’s first female foreign minister while women were appointed as interior and defence ministers for the first time too.

Green EU lawmaker Petra de Sutter became the first transgender federal minister, landing a deputy premier job in charge of state-owned companies and public administration.

(Reporting by Marine Strauss; Writing by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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7 Parties Agree on Belgian Government Led by Liberal De Croo | World News

By RAF CASERT, Associated Press

BRUSSELS (AP) — Almost 500 days after Belgian parliamentary elections, seven parties from both sides of the linguistic aisle agreed early Wednesday on forming a fully functioning majority government under new Prime Minister Alexander De Croo that will center on dealing with the pandemic and its devastating economic impact.

A final negotiating session that lasted almost 24 hours found agreement on a common budget that could unite the seven parties, consisting of Liberals, Socialists and Greens, divided into separate linguistic entities, and the Dutch-speaking Christian Democrats.

“It is the starting point for a new way of doing politics, with more pragmaticism, cooperation and, especially, more respect,” De Croo said.

Led by De Croo and francophone Socialist Paul Magnette during the last days of negotiations, the parties found money to fund new initiatives like a higher minimum pension and improved public services, while hoping to contain the budgetary hemorrhaging caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The last thing was the question who would become prime minister, and since the government falls just shy of a parliamentary majority in Dutch-speaking Flanders, it was an obvious choice to pick De Croo.

“We did head or tails, and it fell for Alexander and it is an excellent choice,” Magnette said tongue-in-cheek.

Despite his age, the 44-year-old De Croo is already a veteran in Belgian politics and was vice premier in the outgoing government. He held the offices of pensions, development aid and finance over the past decade. He would be the first Dutch-speaking prime minister in nine years.

European Council President Charles Michel, a former Belgian prime minister himself, congratulated De Croo and said that “COVID-19 hit us badly, but I count on you and your government to guide us past this challenge.”

Since the May 26, 2019, elections, Belgium has been led by a caretaker government, and, for the past half year, by a minority coalition with widespread support from the opposition to deal with the pandemic, the last one led by francophone Liberal Wilmes.

The government formation has been so difficult. Beyond the linguistic strife between 6.6 million Flemings and 5 million Francophones that is a given in Belgian politics, the 2019 elections saw major advances by the far right in northern Dutch-speaking Flanders, and by the far left in southern francophone Wallonia.

It made compromise politics, an essential element of Belgian politics, even harder. De Croo acknowledged that “a lot of people are extremely skeptical.”

But he insisted the coronavirus crisis made the traditional fissures outdated. “Together we can do a lot more than alone.” The overwhelming challenge will be to deal with the pandemic, which has hit Belgium especially hard. On Wednesday, the tally for Belgium exceeded 10,000 deaths for the first time.

“A great many people face a tough time — insecurity, school closures, temporary job losses. And so many families have lost loved ones,” he said.

Because the plenary room in the Belgian parliament is too small to ensure social distancing between the 150

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7 parties agree on Belgian government led by Liberal De Croo

Almost 500 days after Belgian parliamentary elections, seven parties from both sides of the linguistic aisle on forming a fully functioning majority government under new Prime Minister Alexander De Croo

A final negotiating session that lasted almost 24 hours found agreement on a common budget that could unite the seven parties, consisting of Liberals, Socialists and Greens, divided into separate linguistic entities, and the Dutch-speaking Christian Democrats.

“It is the starting point for a new way of doing politics, with more pragmaticism, cooperation and, especially, more respect,” De Croo said.

The last thing was the question who would become prime minister, and since the government falls just shy of a parliamentary majority in Dutch-speaking Flanders, it was an obvious choice to pick De Croo.

“We did head or tails, and it fell for Alexander and it is an excellent choice,” Magnette said tongue-in-cheek.

Despite his age, the 44-year-old De Croo is already a veteran in Belgian politics and was vice premier in the outgoing government. He held the offices of pensions, development aid and finance over the past decade. He would be the first Dutch-speaking prime minister in nine years.

European Council President Charles Michel, a former Belgian prime minister himself, congratulated De Croo and said that “COVID-19 hit us badly, but I count on you and your government to guide us past this challenge.”

The government formation has been so difficult. Beyond the linguistic strife between 6.6 million Flemings and 5 million Francophones that is a given in Belgian politics, the 2019 elections saw major advances by the far right in northern Dutch-speaking Flanders, and by the far left in southern francophone Wallonia.

It made compromise politics, an essential element of Belgian politics, even harder. De Croo acknowledged that “a lot of people are extremely skeptical.”

But he insisted the coronavirus crisis made the traditional fissures outdated. “Together we can do a lot more than alone.” The overwhelming challenge will be to deal with the pandemic, which has hit Belgium especially hard. On Wednesday, the tally for Belgium exceeded 10,000 deaths

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