Top Belgian mediator offers to quit over budget stalemate | Europe | News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 22.11.2011

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Top Belgian mediator offers to quit over budget stalemate

Inter-party bickering has kept Belgium from forming a new government for 17 months and the country's interim government is at a loss. It's not the first time mediator Elio Di Rupo has offered his resignation.

Elio Di Rupo

Di Rupo has given the king his second resignation offer

The head negotiator tasked with ending Belgium's 17-month political stalemate offered his resignation Monday after talks on the 2012 budget ground to a halt.

Elio Di Rupo, leader of the Francophone Socialists, has failed to lead a six-party coalition of Dutch and French-speaking Socialists, Liberals and Christian Democrats to agreement on budget cuts that would save 11.3 billion euros ($15.2 billion) in order to bring the country's deficit below 2.8 percent of gross domestic product, in compliance with European Union rules.

Delayed decision

Di Rupo met with King Albert II and "reported on the deadlock in negotiations on budgetary, social and economic issues that should pave the way for the formation of a government," a statement from the palace said.

He "asked the king to be dismissed of his [government formation] mission," but the king postponed a decision on Di Rupo's resignation.

"The king reminds everyone of the gravity of the current situation and underlines that the defense of the common interest of all Belgians and the European deadlines require a very rapid solution to the political crisis," the palace said.

Both King Albert and European Union President Herman Van Rompuy urged negotiators to reconvene and come to a rapid agreement in a bid to keep Belgium's borrowing rates from spiking.

Not the first time

Di Rupo previously offered his resignation in July, when talks over electoral boundaries collapsed. The palace refused his resignation that time and talks soon resumed, reaching an agreement.

The EU has predicted that Belgium will miss the 2.8 percent budget deficit limit - and that it will break through the 100 percent debt-to-GDP ratio in 2013 - if the country does not implement major budget reforms.

Belgium's interim government, lead by Yves Leterme, is drafting an emergency budget based on the budget for 2011.

Author: David Levitz (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Editor: Martin Kuebler

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