Finance Minister surprised by Commission's demands

Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt says he is not impressed by the European Commission's recommendations for the Belgian budget. Off the record, Europe is asking Belgium to make an extra effort, but officially no procedure was started.
Nicolas Maeterlinck

The European Commissioner Marianne Thyssen said it was very close - but in the end no official procedure was started to urge Belgium to reduce its debt burden. Van Overtveldt says he is not impressed. "I have seen nothing of the kind in the official communication," he says.

"Even if the EU is asking us an extra effort of 0.3 percent, we would have the same challenge as last year. On that occasion, we managed to do it. I think we even did more."

Europe is asking Belgium to cut spendings worth another 1.2 billion this year. This could put extra pressure on budget talks, and on the federal coalition, where the different Flemish parties have had rows in the past about where to save money and how to use the cash which is still available.