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The Belgian presidency takes the lead from the EU. But with which minister

(BRUSSELS2) By virtue of the rotating presidency (which was maintained by the Treaty of Lisbon (1)), it is Belgium which takes charge of the conduct of European affairs for six months. The priority of the presidency is given to economic and financial matters. Logic responding to the development of economic, financial and budgetary crises (before being social). Also institutional logic: the weight in external matters of the rotating presidency being limited by the creation of the European external action service and the reinforced role of the High Representative who now chairs the Foreign Affairs Council. Read also: Belgium: splash! No government but still EU priorities.

A Minister of Defense on waivers?

The Belgian government which has held the presidency of the EU since today has resigned. And the current ministers will perhaps (probably) not all be confirmed. A question therefore always concerns the personality of the future Minister of Defense. Before the elections, the current minister Pieter de Crem (CD&V) seemed ready to be confirmed, having initiated a profound restructuring (with the elimination of barracks and mobility of staff) which few political leaders wanted to inherit (or assume).

It is no longer the same today; not even at all! The rout of the Christian Democrats at the Flemish level in the last elections in June indeed requires drastic choices. The traditional party in power will no longer be able to maintain the same number of ministers in government, at levels as important as today (Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs, Defense, Justice, Civil Service), it will have to choose. According to certain information, this position could today be claimed by the Socialists, perhaps on the Flemish side (we are talking – among other things – of the return of Tobback son, Bruno of his first name, who was Minister of the Environment under Verhofstadt II , and federal deputy SPA). His main responsibility, however, will not be at the European level (except in the event of a particular event which is always possible) but will be to manage the reform initiated by his predecessor. Cornelian choice…

In the meantime, it is the current government which is in charge of the interim. The informal meeting of Defense Ministers in Ghent on September 23 and 24 could therefore well be chaired by Pieter de Crem.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

(1) Contrary to what some supporters of the European Constitution or the Lisbon Treaty believed (or wanted to believe)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).