26 Nov '11, 5pm

Belgium ends 19-month impasse to beat EU demands

BRUSSELS: Belgium fell in behind model eurozone pupils Italy and Greece on Saturday, its feuding politicians ending 19 months of deadlock with an 11th-hour budget deal that met EU strictures hours after a brutal downgrade. "There is an agreement," French-speaking Socialist premier-to-be Elio Di Rupo's spokeswoman Ermeline Gosselin told AFP on the stroke of noon, as exhausted but elated politicians closed more than 500 days of struggling to craft a workable government. The budget, crucially, will see Belgium's public deficit fall to 2.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 if respected -- enough to avoid the ignominy, as soon as next month, of punishment leading to a possible hefty fine from the EU's new 'euro' commissioner Olli Rehn. In the end, though, it was a lashing from one of the world's top three credit rating agencies -- Standard & Poor's -- that led squ...

Full article: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_world_business...

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