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    Benelux Summit cancelled, Prime Minister busy

    © Belga
    © Belga

    The Benelux Summit scheduled Thursday morning before the EU Summit was canceled because of the political situation in Belgium. Prime Minister Charles Michel is “working ardently,”  someone said, as the Parliament requested that his minority government apply for the vote of confidence.

    On Wednesday, Michel had begun consulting with democratic political groups to cooperate with Parliament in the adoption of certain legal texts. These consultations were pursued on Thursday morning. He was yet to meet with the DéFI’s President, Olivier Maingain, on Thursday evening, but the interview could not take place due in particular to the parliamentary agenda that was still ongoing.

    On Thursday, the House adopted a point of order to request that the Prime Minister present his government’s new program no later than next Tuesday, after which the minority government’s head would table a vote of confidence.

    For the government, the agreement made at the House Speakers’ Conference, that the meeting with the government on Thursday be limited to an exchange of views, was “torn apart” by this point of order which was signed by the PS group’s head, Ahmed Laaouej, and co-signed by sp.a, cDH environmentalists and DéFI. These parties had enough votes to get it passed, since the N-VA also calls for the government to set up a vote of confidence. The nationalists supported the motion as well. As for the socialists, they deny having ruined a deal that never excluded filing a point of order.

    The MR group’s head at the House, David Clarinval, had raised the possibility of the Prime Minister organizing a second round of consultations with parliamentary groups. This, however, is no longer on the agenda since the government considers that it has been betrayed by the filing of the order.

    The Prime Minister was working hard, and was supposed to make contacts Thursday morning, even if this information was not confirmed by his office, which refuses at this stage to comment more fully on the situation. The head of government will participate in the European Summit on Thursday afternoon and Friday, while the weekly sitting of the House is held on Thursday.

    Thursday morning, on La Première (RTBF), Minister Denis Ducarme advised the Prime Minister against seeking confidence in Parliament. Legally, there is no obligation. Politically, the pressure is growing. The Prime Minister can avoid doing so by presenting his minority government’s resignation to the King.

    The Brussels Times