Charles Michel stresses importance of Belgium’s international commitments
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Prime Minister Charles Michel stressed the importance of Belgium’s international commitments on Wednesday and said he had no intention of absenting himself from international meetings. His remarks, made in Paris, came in reaction to opposition criticism of his absence from parliament during the 2018 budget debate.
“Parliament is informed of the Prime Minister’s presence abroad,” the Office of the Prime Minister said. “Charles Michel honours his commitments and does not want to spoil Belgium’s image by leaving an empty chair at international meetings.”
The Prime Minister is in France for a meeting organized by President Emmanuel Macron on the fight against terrorist groups in the Sahel. His office said the Federal Government was represented at the budget debate in parliament by the ministers concerned, namely those in charge of Finance, Johan Van Overtveldt, and the Budget, Sophie Wilmès.
Traditionally, the head of government attends such meetings. The political situation has been tense because of the New Flemish Alliance’s refusal to approve an energy pact negotiated by the federal and regional ministers. As a result, the opposition called for the Prime Minister to appear in parliament on Wednesday or Thursday, before the European summit.
The parliamentary majority proposed at a conference of presidents on Tuesday to postpone the budget session, but there was no consensus on the proposal. A limited ministerial committee meeting on the energy pact has been announced for Thursday.