PM Peeters: "State reform deal not the end of the journey"

Elio Di Rupo's accord on state reforms has not created any insurmountable difficulties for the Flemish Government. The Flemish nationalist party that is part of the Flemish administration but opposes the deal remains in the Flemish Government.

All three Flemish Government parties, the Christian democrats, the Flemish nationalists and the socialists, are signing a joint statement about the accord reached by the eight parties negotiating a Federal Government agreement.

On Wednesday morning Flemish cabinet members met to consider the implications that the federal deal will have for Flanders and to check that the agreement does not conflict with the Flemish coalition accord.

The Flemish Government believes that the Federal Accord that is supported by two of the Flemish coalition parties, the Christian democrats and the socialists, will not jeopardise the implementation of the Flemish Government's programme.

State reform deal is a staging post

Speaking in the Flemish Parliament on Wednesday afternoon Flemish Premier Kris Peeters (Christian democrat) insisted that the state reform deal did not conflict with the Flemish coalition agreement and that his administration would co-operate in the implementation of the reforms.

"As a result of the agreement Flanders will acquire additional policy instruments. The Flemish Government is giving a commitment that it will use these instruments to pursue more effective policies."

Mr Peeters was keen to emphasise that this 6th reform of the Belgian state was but a staging post to a final goal. He also insisted that a lot of work still needed to be done to achieve a coherent implementation of the transfer of new powers.

Moreover, the Flemish Prime Minister identified a deficiency in Belgium's federal set-up: the devolved regions and communities have no say in the state reform process. He voiced the hope that a greater say for the regions could be achieved during the proposed reform of the Senate.

"It's a missed opportunity"

The Flemish nationalist party N-VA is staying in the Flemish Government, but has castigated the deal that the eight parties have reached at the federal level. In a communiqué N-VA speaks of an "historic missed opportunity". N-VA leader Bart De Wever: "Flemish parties have missed an historic opportunity to straighten financial and institutional matters in this land."

Mr De Wever says that the document released by Francophone socialist leader Elio Di Rupo on Tuesday confirms information that appeared in the media regarding the various parts of the accord. The N-VA believes its earlier analyses were right.

It’s especially the reform of the finance law that settles the future funding of the regions, communities and the federal state that has drawn the N-VA's ire. The Flemish nationalist leader repeated his criticism that the deal means that Flanders will have to pay a very expensive price, while Francophones get extra funding via several different channels. Flanders will lose 2.2 billion euros by 2030 the N-VA claims.

On the splitting of the Brussels Halle Vilvoorde Constituency: "The Flemish get fewer rights in Brussels. Francophones are given more privileges in Flemish Brabant."

The party intends to publish a detailed analysis of the deal on its website soon.