Belgian Chief Negotiator: New Government Possible This Week

Posted November 27th, 2011 at 5:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Belgium's chief negotiator in charge of forming a cabinet says the country may finally have a new government this week after pressure from the European Union and a credit rating downgrade.

Elio Di Rupo said Sunday there is still a lot of work to do and issues to settle. But he said the country's six political parties reached agreement on a 2012 budget, which had been a major obstacle towards putting together a coalition government.

Belgium has set a modern world record for the longest time without a permanent government — one and a half years.

The European Union has threatened to penalize Belgium unless it came up with a spending plan for next year. The Standard & Poor's agency downgraded Belgium's credit rating Friday in part because the country still does not have a government.

Belgian negotiators have had trouble settling political, cultural, and economic differences between the country's Dutch speakers and French speakers.