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Belgian coalition rocked by UN migration pact spat

December 9, 2018

Prime Minister Charles Michel stood firm against calls from a coalition partner to quit the international migration pact. He now faces the delicate task of reshuffling his cabinet along linguistic lines.

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel standing in front of an EU flag
Image: Reuters/E. Vidal

Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel has vowed to continue his administration as a minority government after the largest party in his coalition quit over his intention to sign the United Nations' controversial migration pact.

The leader of the Flemish-speaking N-VA party, Bart De Wever, announced his party's withdrawal late on Saturday after Michel, a French-speaking liberal, said: "I stand by my word, I will leave for Marrakech."

World leaders are to meet in the Moroccan city next week to sign the UN migration pact, which has elicited a strong backlash from right-wing parties in many countries.

Conservative governments in Australia, Austria, Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic have withdrawn their support for the deal, which sets out non-binding measures for regulating global migration.

Michel fended off N-VA pressure last week when a majority in the Belgian parliament voted in favor of maintaining Belgium's support for the agreement.

With N-VA's departure, Michel will need to reshuffle his cabinet to ensure it conforms with a legal statute that requires an equal number of French- and Dutch-speaking ministers.

His French-speaking liberal MR and the Flemish-speaking center-right CD&V and Open VLD parties will remain in the coalition. The next federal election is scheduled for May.

Pact or Panic: Can Migration Be Controlled?

amp/jm (AP, Reuters)

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