Brussels Blogger

Guy Verhofstadt is back. The phrase “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose” seems reality today in Belgium.

6 Months after being defeated in the national elections the Belgian prime minister received a mandate from the Belgian King to extend the current caretaker government beyond its task of dealing with ongoing “current affairs”.

This will allow Verhofstadt to go ahead with two important dossiers, according to Belgian daily Le Soir:

  • The preparation of the 2008 budget for the country
  • The implementation of the national security plan

What is not mentioned: The King’s mandate will very likely also allow Verhofstadt to sign the EU reform treaty next week in Lisbon. In recent weeks, several commentators have argued that the signature under a new EU treaty would not be part of running current affairs.

So, thanks to the temporary Verhofstadt III government, the Portuguese EU presidency can go ahead with the signature ceremony in Lisbon. Oufff….

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  1. The country is unfortunately in dire straits. On the one hand, Verhostadt is not directly mandated to ratify the treaty. On the other hand, with no impending government in sight, the subject matter (i.e. Lisbon treaty) is barely touched upon in the press. Isn’t that a problem? Could it lead to increased euroscepticism? Can anyone help this poor kingdom?

  2. If I remember correctly, Belgium approved the Constitutional Treaty, at least in practice. Since the Lisbon Treaty subtracts from the Constitution, it would mean giving approval to something less.

    That shouldn’t be too dramatic, if all the entities in Belgium still work in a coherent manner.

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