Federal government agreement announced

Summary

MR’s Charles Michel becomes the prime minister of a Belgian “recovery government” consisting of N-VA, CD&V, Open VLD and MR

 
Photo by Benoit Doppagne/BELGA

Retirement age raised to 67

After nearly 30 hours of non-stop negotiations, formateurs Kris Peeters (CD&V) and Charles Michel (MR) announced an agreement on the formation of new Belgian federal government yesterday evening.

The so-called Swedish coalition will consist of nationalists N-VA, Christian-democrats CD&V and liberals Open VLD on the Flemish side and on the French-speaking side only liberals MR. At only 38, Michel will be the youngest prime minister to ever lead the country.

“This will be a government of recovery,” said Michel, referring to the delicate issue of balancing the budget. The coalition partners agreed on cuts worth nearly €8 billion.

In order to balance the budget by 2018, some €3 billion in new taxes will be introduced. About the same amount will be given to employees and companies as a tax break. “This is a tax shift. Every euro we take, we give back,” said N-VA party president Bart De Wever.

The new coalition will raise the retirement age by two years, to 67. The automatic index adaption, which links wages to the cost of living, will be skipped in 2015. Workers will, however, receive a tax break of €250. The coalition also agreed on a solution for the Arco savers/shareholders, who will get 40% of their money back.

The new government will have 13 ministers, of whom seven are Flemish. Negotiations continue today to decide on the division of the portfolios. Some names are already known: N-VA’s Jan Jambon will become the new minister for the interior; Open VLD’s Maggie De Block becomes public health minister.

CD&V gets the work portfolio, which is expected to go to Peeters, Flanders’ former minister-president. Didier Reynders (MR) will continue as minister of foreign affairs.

On Thursday and Friday the coalition parties will hold congresses to give their consent to the agreement. The new government is expected to be sworn in by King Filip on Saturday.

Photo: Formateurs Kris Peeters (left) and Charles Michel this morning outside parliament

MR’s Charles Michel becomes the prime minister of a Belgian “recovery government” consisting of N-VA, CD&V, Open VLD and MR.

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Belgian government

Belgium is a federal state made up of three regions and three communities, based on language (Dutch, French and German). The federal level is responsible for issues such as justice, defence, finances and foreign affairs – matters that affect the entire country. Belgium is also a constitutional monarchy.
Regions - The regions are comparable to American states or German Länder. They are geographical entities, responsible for matters related to their territory, such as public works, environment and economy. Belgium’s three regions are the Flemish Region, the Brussels-Capital Region and the Walloon Region.
Communities - Communities are responsible for matters that directly affect residents, such as education, welfare and culture. Belgium’s three communities are the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German Community.
Flanders - Although regions and communities do not overlap exactly, the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community have merged into the Flemish government. Its official language is Dutch. The Flemish Parliament sits in Brussels, which is the official capital city of Flanders (as well as Belgium).
11

population of Belgium in millions of people, with 6.2 million living in Flanders.

6

number of state reforms that have resulted in the federal system as it is today.

4

number of years for which the federal House of Representatives and the Senate are elected.