Jean-Pascal Labille joins Federal Government

The 51-year-old Francophone socialist Jean-Pascal Labille is to take over from his party colleague Paul Magnette in Belgium’s federal government. Mr Magnette is leaving the federal government to become Mayor of his home town and Wallonia’s biggest city Charleroi. A meeting of the Francophone socialists’ (PS) National Executive Committee held on Thursday evening decided that Mr Magnette will also become the party's new Chairman. 41-year-old Mr Magnette takes over the party Chairmanship from interim chairman Thierry Giet.

Mr Magnette will be charged with the task of preparing his party for next year’s federal, regional and European elections.

Speaking on Thursday evening, Mr Magnette told the VRT that "The PS has a long tradition of Mayors that combine their function with that of party chairman. I know of a Flemish party that is led by the Mayor of a big city.”

New to national politics

51-year-old Jean-Pascal Labille is new to national politics. He is currently General Secretary of the National Federation of Socialist Health Mutuals.

He will be responsible for state-owned companies, development aid and policies related to the big cities. The Francophone socialist Secretary of State Philippe Courard will take over Mr Magnette’s responsibilities for science policy.

The Royal Palace issued a statement on Thursday evening saying that the King had accepted Mr Magnette’s resignation. Mr Labille went to Laken Castle to swear his oath of allegiance and officially join the Federal Government.

Mr Labille is currently on the board of a number of organisations including the Francophone public broadcaster RTBF and the Walloon Regional Investment Board (SRIW).

The new Minister comes from Liège and is close to the Walloon Economy Minister Jean-Claude Marcourt.