According to minister in charge Leterme, there has been furnished today a quite important historical break in Belgium. At last the Belgian coalition negotiators agreed to split the voting district encompassing the bilingual capital, removing the biggest obstacle to political stability in this tiny country for the past six years and sending its bonds higher.
At the beginning of September Belgium had hit a new milestone: 450 days without a government.
Europe’s financial crisis and feeble economic growth may scare governments from the Arctic Circle to the Mediterranean Sea, but in Belgium no politicians can be found with red cheeks or heads down. In the triumvirate or quadrivium (Flanders, Wallonia, German Federation, and Brussels District) it is a sideshow.
Since the June 13, 2010 election ministers got nowhere. In this artificial country it’ll take some doing., were at a standstill Monday for a third day running. But the ones in charged kept pulling the population its leg.
Di Rupo, having had 10 predecessors since the 2010 election, managed to break a 15-month deadlock in coalition talks after urging the eight parties involved to make a “last effort,” saying the future of the country was at stake. Some consider it a success for Di Rupo, 60, after the dispute highlighted the rift between Dutch- and French-speaking parties and provoked the collapse of the previous government led by Yves Leterme. The agreement over the junction of Brussels-Hall-Vilvoorde that has finally been reached is ‘one step’. That has said a broad smiling formateur Elio Di Rupo (PS) Thursday for his meeting with prime minister Yves Leterme (CD&V).
An other important step is this year’s Global Competitiveness Report published last week by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Belgium is now the world’s 15th most-competitive economy, compared to 19th last year, leaving behind Norway, Saudi Arabia and France.
The WEF praised Belgium for its health care and primary education, the second best in the world (see table), its higher education and training, business sophistication and technological readiness. The quality of its management schools are the highest of all 142 countries researched.
The only thing now is that other countries and stockbrokers can look more at ease at this political unstable country. Though they shall point their finger still at the other less praiseworthy labour market efficiency – 44th place – and macroeconomic environment, which comes in 60th place. Among the “most problematic factors doing business” are its restrictive labour regulations, high tax rates and inefficient government bureaucracy.
In any case it looks like they did not only hear the thunder but saw also some lightning. Belgian government bonds rallied following the agreement. The 4.25 percent securities due September 2021 gained 0.63, or 6.3 euros per 1,000-euro face amount, to 102.380 as of 11 a.m. in Brussels for a yield of 3.97 percent. The extra yield investors demand to hold the 10-year bonds rather than German notes of similar maturity fell 9 basis points to 208 basis points.
Leading the list of most competitive economies is, like last year, Switzerland. Runners-up are Singapore, Sweden and Finland. The US falls to 5th place. A general trend can be observed of emerging economies, increasingly claiming their place high on the list. China continues its ascent and now occupies a solid 26th place.
The Global Competitiveness Report was first published in 1979 and ranks the world’s countries according to their ability to convey a certain level of welfare onto their citizens, measured along levels of innovation and productivity. It does so with the use of publicly available information as well as a survey among some 14,000 business leaders worldwide.
Shall Belgium, that has had 45 governments in 67 years, be able to look forward to its 46th government?
- Di Rupo noemt BHV-akkoord ‘één stap’ (nieuwsblad.be)
Of het BHV-akkoord betekent dat de onderhandelaars de begroting zullen opstellen kon Leterme niet zeggen. Hij hoopt dat nu het momentum gegrepen wordt om na 15 maanden een doorbraak te bereiken in de andere domeinen die op de onderhandelingstafel liggen, luidde het aan de ingang van zijn ambtswoning.
- Formateur: “Eerbaar en evenwichtig”
Vanuit Vlaams standpunt is het beter dan wat anderhalf jaar geleden haalbaar leek, ook al was het land en zeker CD&V wellicht beter af geweest was men toen tot een akkoord gekomen.
Thyssen en Dehaene hopen dat er nu ook “spoedig een globaal regeerakkoord kan worden bereikt op basis waarvan de regering kan starten”. “Het land heeft hier dringend nood aan”, luidt het. (MUA)