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Verhofstadt: Five challenges of the Belgian Presidency


07 Jul 2010

Addressing the Belgium Prime Minister, Yves Leterme, in a parliamentary debate in Strasbourg today, Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Liberal and Democrat group in the European Parliament, underlined that the success of the Belgian Presidency would be judged on its ability to steer through the measures to address the financial and economic crisis.

"There is one over-riding concern on the minds of Europe's citizens and that is how we can quickly and efficiently emerge from the current crisis and era of austerity and lay the foundations for future growth and prosperity. Belgium now faces its own stress test whether it can live up to expectations and deliver genuine Community responses to a crisis that transcends all frontiers."

"This approach applies in a first instance to Financial Supervision where consensus will only be achieved between the Institutions if Council drop their insistence on maintaining unanimity amongst all Member States and vote by a qualified majority on the establishment of a European supervisory structure that is not forever beholden to certain national interests."

Verhofstadt's five economic policy challenges for the Belgian Presidency are:

• Agreement on a common approach to applying bank stress tests and the urgency of re-establishing our banks on a stable and sustainable financial footing.

• The Stability and Growth Pact must be strengthened along the lines proposed by Commissioner Rehn to make it both credible and enforceable;

• The Union must set in place mechanisms for real economic policy making and coordination to ensure all efforts are pulling in the same direction and complement its monetary policy;

• Agreement must be found on the package of measures to strengthen financial supervision at European level which will require some Member States to relinquish their cherished sovereignty which did nothing to warn against the risks in the banking and financial sectors in last two years;

• Europe must relaunch its Single Market that spurred growth in the 1990s, ensure above all the free movement of persons and labour and tackle corruption, tax evasion and the black economy at every level.

"The new Treaty framework of Lisbon also means that the rotating Presidency has to change its mindset and work constructively with an empowered Parliament and a permanent President of the Council. The fact that the latter happens to be a Belgian should ease the transition and enable us to make real progress."

For more information, please contact:
Neil Corlett: +33-3-88 17 41 67 or +32-478-78 22 84


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