Ovi -
we cover every issue
Stop human trafficking  
Ovi Bookshop - Free Ebook
Join Ovi in Facebook
Ovi Language
Ovi on Facebook
Stop violence against women
Murray Hunter: Opportunity, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement
BBC News :   - 
iBite :   - 
Belgium report Belgium report
by Euro Reporter
2011-03-05 09:36:53
Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author
DeliciousRedditFacebookDigg! StumbleUpon
Belgium’s debt is great unifier as government talks drag on

There are 342 billion reasons why Belgium won’t break apart. That figure is the size of the national debt in Euros: 31,560 Euros ($43,560) for every Belgian on both sides of the north-south schism that has left the linguistically fractured country without a government 262 days after national elections. Unwilling to subsidize the economically depressed French- speaking south, the richer Dutch-speaking north is determined to grab powers from federal authorities. Looming over both is Europe’s third-highest debt load -- keeping the country in political limbo yet preventing it from unravelling.

“Belgium blowing up, to put it quaintly, I find that hard to imagine,” says Elmar Keutgen, 63, mayor of Eupen in the German-speaking east, itself a by-product of Belgium’s patchwork history. “There are a few unifying things: There’s the king, Brussels, the national debt and the easygoing lifestyle.”

Belgium’s political class -- led by Flemish nationalist Bart De Wever, the top vote-getter in the north in the June 13 election, and Socialist Elio Di Rupo, the winner in the French region -- has been unable to break the deadlock and forge a coalition to keep Europe’s fiscal crisis from lapping over the country’s borders. With interruptions for summer vacation, Christmas holidays and the February ski break, negotiations -- sometimes directly, sometimes through royal mediators -- have dwelled on institutional arrangements such as more regional control of health-care and unemployment insurance or the redistricting of voting precincts around Brussels, the mostly French-speaking capital and headquarters of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.


Belgium defends wage policy from German attack

Belgium has rejected a Franco/German plan to impose wide ranging economic changes on euro zone states. Germany wants an end to inflation-linked wages, which is on the statute books in Belgium, and believes that it reduces the country’s ability to compete in global markets.

Didier Reynders, the Belgian Finance Minister, explained why he is opposed to that: “I can understand the process, especially from the German side, where there has been wage moderation for many years, but now Germany is approving salary hikes that are much higher than in Belgium. So let us deal with the reality. As for France – look at the numbers. I could talk about Spain or other countries. Let’s look at the numbers there. In Belgium we will end up with a deficit slightly below four percent of GDP.” In response euronews journalist, Sergio Cantone pointed out to the minister that those who are protesting refuse to adhere to the German social model.

Reynders said: “They just don’t want tough wage restraints like they had in Germany over the last 10 years. I think we need to realise that if we want growth in the country we need to develop economic activity to improve the general well being in the country. Germany had a specific problem to deal with in the 80’s – reunification. So West Germany came to the aid of East Germany. We are not in this situation and therefore our concern is to say, you take economic decisions to create growth to benefit the whole population.”


Belgian unions block port, industries, in demand for more pay; employers condemn actions

Unions disrupted public transport in parts of Belgium and blocked industrial sites to demand better pay rises. In a daylong protest Friday, bus and train schedules were affected, while the blocking of roads around Antwerp also affected work at one of the world's biggest harbours.

The day of action came after pay negotiations between unions and employers ended in deadlock. Belgium's caretaker government stepped in with its own proposals for labour agreements but the socialist and liberal unions rejected them as insufficient. The Christian Democrat union backs the deal. The federation of employers has condemned the day of action.

Print - Comment - Send to a Friend - More from this Author

Get it off your chest
 (comments policy)

© Copyright CHAMELEON PROJECT Tmi 2005-2008  -  Sitemap  -  Add to favourites  -  Link to Ovi
Privacy Policy  -  Contact  -  RSS Feeds  -  Search  -  Submissions  -  Subscribe  -  About Ovi