Belgium is putting the finishing touches on its programme as EU president. It will take up the rotating position on 1 July amid uncertainty surrounding the country’s own political stability. Early national elections are scheduled for June 13.
Caretaker Prime Minister Yves Leterme (who resigned last month) said the Belgian EU presidency would carry a punch. He said: “Space has to be made for the European institutions after the renewal of the European Parliament, renewal of the Commission, the investiture of the permanent president of the European Council. Political space must be given, a field for action, to the truly community institutions.”
After this statement, however, a journalist suggested to the European Commission president that, with Europe in financial crisis, having a defeated government heading the EU was not ideal.
Jose Manuel Barroso replied: “Frankly, I can work with this government as if it had just been sworn in.”
With just a few weeks to run in Spain’s presidency, Mr Leterme gave Mr Barroso a symbol of the upcoming six-month Belgian EU presidency; it was a transparent star.