Groen! says "yes" to Mr Vande Lanotte

The Flemish ecologists are the first of the seven parties involved in the political talks on state reforms to say "yes" to the proposals launched by Royal Mediator Johan Vande Lanotte (Flemish socialist). Groen! leader Wouter Van Besien told VRT News that the document handed to the seven party leaders on Monday night contained "good elements".

Mr Van Besien, whose Flemish ecologists are expected to support a deal on state reforms, but remain outside any new Federal Government, said that the proposals ensured that the hot chestnut of Belgian politics, the Brussels Halle Vilvoorde Constituency, was split "in a good way". In addition many powers and responsibilities are handed to the regions and language communities, but solidarity is maintained across Belgium.

Mr Van Besien did raise questions about the transfer of some judicial powers to the regions.

On Brussels too he is not completely satisfied. The greens are pleased that hospitals and other emergency services will continue to offer treatment in both languages, but he attacked a certain "vagueness": "It's important that Brussels is reformed internally, that the structures of government become lighter and more transparent."

Mr Van Besien feels that Mr Vande Lanotte should continue to lead the negotiations, but this doesn't mean that the ecologists support him for the Premiership.

Ecolo: "He's done a good job"

The leadership of the Francophone green party Ecolo met at noon on Wednesday to discuss the party's reaction to the Royal Mediator's document, but by 6 PM no response was yet forthcoming. Before the start of the meeting Jean-Michel Javaux said that Mr Vande Lanotte had done a good job. He added: "His proposal will change the country for many years, so we must discuss it thoroughly. The document is not a take-it-or-leave-it offer. There is room for amendments."