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Belgian EU presidency promises steady hand

Belgian EU presidency promises steady hand
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Belgium, revered for its chocolate, chips and beer, but less for its internal political stability, takes on the rotating presidency of the European Union from 1 July, for six months.

During that time, even with its government in transition, the Belgian EU presidency’s priorities are expected to be maintained. They include re-kindling economic growth, financial market surveillance and developing eco-friendly policies.

The country’s acting prime minister, Yves Leterme, already last month downplayed concern for the running of EU affairs. But then the country’s separatist New Flemish Alliance party became the biggest winner in national elections.

Last week King Albert nominated its leader, Bart De Wever, to explore options for a new government. At his latest appearance in Brussels, Leterme said:

“I believe a temporarily presiding member state’s role is to facilitate things for the European Union… to facilitate the decision-making process at the European level.”

The presidency is expected to be helped by the fact that Flemish Belgian former prime minister Herman Van Rompuy is the permanent chair of the European Council of EU heads of state and government.

The presidency programme’s official presentation is 7 July at the European Parliament.