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       flanders   T H E      D U T C H        S P E A K I N G           P A R T          O F                  B E L G I U M

                                             press review
                        weekly, does not appear in July • number 3 • 15 January - 21 January 2005

       A two-phase easing of                                                                              su
                                                                                                            r la flandre

     the tax burden in Flanders
                                                                                                                                                  ontainer         getting big-
                                                                                                                                              Cger and ships arethe Wester-


                                                                                                                                                           bigger and for the

                                                                                                 rn • foc

                                                                                                                                us on flan
                                                                                                                                              largest of them
                                                                                                                    schelde is currently not deep

                                                                                                                    enough. For the Port of


                                                                                                          fokus au
                                                                                                                    Antwerp’s competitiveness, a

 I  n 2007 the one million employed
    Flemings on the minimum wage can
 expect a EUR 125 income tax rebate,
                                             care of the disabled, to suffer in bud-
                                             getary terms as a result. Minister-Presi-
                                             dent Leterme (CD&V) gave him reas-
                                                                                                                    deepening of the channel to 13.1
                                                                                                                    metres in this Westerschelde is
                                                                                              therefore vitally important. The Port of Antwerp can-
                                                                                              not allow itself to waste any more time and hopes that
 whilst by 2009 this measure will be         surances (FF).                                   the deepening work can start in 2007. After all, in this
                                                                                              period the Deurganck Dock, a completely new dock
 extended to include all 2.5 million                                                          wholly intended for container transhipment, will also
 Flemings in employment and be raised        WIM VANDE VELDEN • DE TIJD • 14 JANUARY          be opened. But the Westerschelde flows through the
 to EUR 200. The plan is contained in                                                         Dutch province of Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and therefore
                                                                                              Flanders has to reach an agreement with its Dutch
 the policy memorandum drawn up by           In an initial phase the Liberal minister         neighbours on all additional aspects of such a deepen-
 Flemish Finance and Budget Minister         is targeting the (one million) people in         ing. After years of negotiations, in which the port’s
 Dirk Van Mechelen (VLD) and will be         work on the lowest incomes. In 2007              patience was put to the test on many an occasion, the
                                                                                              Dutch catalogue of comments and observations has
 discussed on 21 January in the Flemish      these people will be awarded a tax cut           grown into a major plan (‘Development Blueprint
 Council of Ministers. The coalition         of EUR 125, and in 2008 this amount              2010’) with measures to combat flooding and for the
                                                                                              protection of nature in the Scheldt estuary. At the end
 partners SP.A and CD&V do not have          will be raised to EUR 150, says Van              of last year Flemish Public Works Minister Kris Peeters
 many problems with Van Mechelen’s           Mechelen. With this initial phase of             (CD&V) was finally able to announce that he had
 plans (which, after all, are contained in   the tax cut, the government wants to             reached an agreement with his colleagues Peijs (Trans-
                                                                                              port and Communications) and Veerman (Agriculture
 the coalition agreement). However,          do something about the notorious un-             and Nature) on timing and content. But this was by no
 SP.A MP Ludo Sannen urged that pru-         employment ‘trap’. The difference be-            means the end of the matter.
 dence be exercised. He does not want        tween a benefit income and an income             The most important question, namely who would pay
                                                                                              what, still had to be negotiated. In the Netherlands
 other priorities, such as education and     from work is currently often too small.          objections were still raining down in parliament and
                                             By making that difference larger, peo-           among lobby groups. Since it is also in the interest of
                                                                                              some Dutch ports (Terneuzen) to see the channel deep-
                                             ple will have more of an incentive to            ened and industry in Dutch Limburg is more easily
             CONTENTS                        look for a job. In 2009 all people in            accessible via Antwerp than via Rotterdam, studies
                                             work could expect a EUR 200 rebate               have concluded that a third of the economic benefits
                                                                                              would go to the Netherlands. But Flemish Government
 Research and Economy                        on their personal income tax bill.               and Port circles have never believed that the Nether-
 Top scientist gets own lab in Leuven 2      At that point the budgetary repercus-            lands would also be prepared to defray a third of the
 Flemish education policy             2      sions also immediately become                    costs, which are estimated at EUR 700 million. Accord-
                                                                                              ing to De Standaard the Flemish side was mainly fear-
                                             greater: EUR 500 million (or EUR 200             ful of two scenarios. The first was that of the so-called
 Politics/State Reform                       for the nigh-on 2.5 million Flemings in          Dutch arithmetic, whereby the financing – not only the
                                                                                              actual deepening but also the investments in the envi-
 Parties adopt strategic line in             work).                                           ronment and dike building – would be left almost in its
 Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde question    3      Speaking on behalf of the Socialist              entirety to Flanders. An even greater doom scenario
 Founder of Liberaal Appel                   group in the Flemish Parliament, Ludo            consisted in the Netherlands linking the Westerschelde
                                                                                              matter to another issue which was lying idle – for
 commits suicide                      4      Sannen called for a degree of prudence.          example connection to the European HST (high-speed
                                             He wants the second phase of the tax             train) line, about which federal minister Vande Lanotte
 Social policy                               cut only to be approved when the                 has talks with his Dutch colleague Peys next week. All
                                                                                              eyes were therefore on Flemish Minister-President
 Social agreement in Flanders         3      Flemish Government has arranged and              Leterme who met the Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter
 Demand on labour market increases    4      fixed everything in its long-term plan           Balkenende for talks on the matter in The Hague on 20
                                                                                              January. After the meeting both ministers were ‘coolly
 Unemployment control: 2 out of 3            for this period of office. Flemish Minis-        optimistic’ (Gazet van Antwerpen, 21 January). Con-
 unemployed apply for a job           4      ter-President Yves Leterme immedi-               siderable progress had been made. The talks on the
 Belgian wage agreement 2005-2006     5      ately reassured the SP.A group and said          financing of the plan were in a final phase, Balkenende
                                                                                              finally promised to approve the Development Blueprint
                                             that the draft decree would only be ap-          (but according to the GvA only after the meeting
 International Aid, Media and Culture        proved definitively when the long-               between Vande Lanotte and Peys) and it would be pos-
 Tsunami 1212 collects 40 million 6          term plan was arranged in full. ‘But as          sible for a ‘memorandum of agreement’ to be signed
                                                                                              by the end of February. Within four to five months the
 Programming director leaves                 far as the merits of the idea are con-           ‘Treaty’ should then be a fait accompli. If that schedule
 television channel VTM             6        cerned, the entire government agrees             is indeed respected, the first spade will be able to hit
                                                                                              the ground before 2007.
 Belgian Antiques trade moans       7        with Van Mechelen’s plans,’ Leterme’s
 The new culture policy of minister          office also declared.
 Anciaux                            7                                               ■                         Frank Vandecaveye | editor in chief

focus on FLANDERS • 15 January - 21 January 2005 • Number 3
                                                  RESEARCH AND ECONOMY


                                                                                             henceforth to cultivate these embryo
 Flemish scientist gets own                                                                  stem cells in a lab, we would be able to
                                                                                             use them as spare parts for the human
lab at University of Leuven                                                                  body, and thus use them to help com-
                                                                                             bat a whole range of diseases. But the
Catherine verfaillie is a world authority in the field of stem cell research                 fact that these are embryo stem cells -
                                                                                             and we are therefore talking about an
                                                                                             unborn life - has aroused numerous

C    atherine Verfaillie from West Flan-
     ders, a world authority in the field
of stem cell research, is coming back to
                                                 faillie is a pioneer. The new lab in Leu-
                                                 ven should be operational by the end of
                                                 2005 (FF).
                                                                                             ethical debates, particularly in the
                                                                                             United States. The great merit of
                                                                                             Catherine Verfaillie is that she has dis-
the Catholic University of Leuven                                                            covered another way. She has discov-
(KUL). She will be heading an institute                    STEFAN VANDERSTRAETEN •           ered the same kind of cells in the bone
to be set up there devoted to stem cell                HET L A ATSTE NIEUWS • 17 JANUARY     marrow of adults. These adult cells
research. Verfaillie is currently head of                                                    could be used to make nerve, liver,
the renowned stem cell institute at the          Catherine Verfaillie’s CV makes your        pancreas, cartilage and heart muscle
University of Minnesota in Minneapo-             head spin. Not only has she written         cells, which in time could help in the
lis, where she went in 1987 after her            more than 150 articles for the most         fight against heart attacks, Alzhei-
specialisation in Internal Medicine at           prestigious medical journals, but what      mer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease,
the KUL. Verfaillie is quoted in De              is more she even has cells named after      rheumatism, diabetes and cancer. This
Standaard (15 January) as saying that            her - the ‘Verfaillie cells’. Marc Boo-     is a meritorious achievement at world
her decision to leave the USA has noth-          gaerts, head of the haematology depart-     level.
ing to do with the campaign waged by             ment at the KUL: ‘That is the result of
President George W. Bush and the con-            her pioneering work in stem cell re-            WWW.MICAB.UMN.EDU/FACULTY/
servative Christians against embryo              search. For the layman: stem cells are                     VERFAILLIE
stem cell research and the attempts              at the basis of all life. Formed by the
being made to place limitations on               amalgamation of ovum and spermato-
research. Verfaillie wants to carry out          zoid, they will grow into each of our
research on stem cells from embryos as           organs. These embryo stem cells are
well as stem cells from the bodies of            also totipotent, which means they can
adults. The latter is ethically less con-        mature into each of the 220 different
troversial, and it is in this field that Ver-    cell types in our body. If we were                                                 ■

                                       ENERGY MARKET

                                                                                             immediately being annulled because
      Verwilghen (VLD) wants                                                                 companies help contribute towards the
                                                                                             substantial subsidisation of the wind-
      to reduce electricity bill                                                             mill park.
                                                                                             In addition to starting the debate on a
       his first proposal is a reduction of the VAT rate from 21% to 6%                      reduction of the VAT rate and the ban
                                                                                             on additional duties, the Energy Minis-
                                                                                             ter even hopes to be able to curb energy

T     he liberalisation of the energy mar-
      ket in Belgium has not yet led to
the cheaper energy or better service
                                                       PASCAL SERTYN • DE STANDA ARD •
                                                                 20 JANUARY
                                                                                             prices in the coming years. He has high
                                                                                             expectations for an agreement between
                                                                                             Belgium, the Netherlands and France
that consumers had been expecting.               Verwilghen regards it as symptomatic        on a genuine unification of the energy
Electricity in itself has indeed become          that when he visits companies he is         market. Verwilghen says that these
cheaper, but at the same time all kinds          first questioned about high energy          three countries are close to an agree-
of taxes have been calculated into the           costs, whereas for some years wage          ment in principle to encourage the lay-
tariff, so that the effect has been can-         costs had been the major obstacle.          ing of cross-border high-tension lines.
celled out. Federal Economic Affairs             For that matter the Energy Minister         The expectation is that such an agree-
Minister Marc Verwilghen (VLD) is                points a finger at himself. All kinds of    ment will stimulate investments in
aware of this and wants to apply three           taxes weigh heavily in the energy bill -    power stations, which in turn should
remedies to reduce energy bills. The             certainly in the case of companies.         lead to more competition between en-
first is a reduction of the VAT rate from        According to Verwilghen there can no        ergy generators and therefore lower
21% to 6%. Secondly he wants an                  longer be any talk of additional taxes.     prices.
absolute ban on new energy taxes and             In so saying, he is immediately sending
thirdly he wants to encourage the                a signal to Budget Minister Johan
building of additional high-tension con-         Vande Lanotte (SP.A), who is pressing
nections between Belgium, France and             for a more far-reaching subsidisation of
the Netherlands. The better infrastruc-          the windmill park in the North Sea.
ture should attract investors to finance         According to Verwilghen, that will be
the construction of new power stations,          too heavy a burden on companies.
which in turn would lead to increased            He says he wants to avoid the recent
competition for major producer Elec-             government decision establishing a
trabel (FF).                                     ceiling for energy levies for companies                                            ■

                                                                        focus on FLANDERS • 15 January - 21 January 2005 • Number 3
                                               POLITICS AND SOCIAL POLICY

                                       STATE REFORM

   Parties adopt strategic line                                                            order to explain progress at govern-
                                                                                           ment level.
                                                                                           ‘If you sabotage us in the parliamen-
      on the BHV question                                                                  tary committee, we’ll sabotage you in
                                                                                           the working group’ had hitherto been
  Initially CD&V and N-VA refused to send delegates to the working group,                  the CD&V’s and N-VA’s reasoning.
     claiming that having the working group set up was a delaying tactic.                  The little tactical game ended yester-
           But on 19 January they decided to send someone after all                        day with the assurance for both parties
                                                                                           that they are keeping their ‘big stick’ -
                                                                                           the bills in the House. Both parties im-

 A     t the first meeting of the inter-
       ministerial conference, which
 aims to seek a solution for the Brussels-
                                               separately from all other state reform
                                               matters. They still refer to the Flemish
                                               coalition agreement, concluded with
                                                                                           mediately decided to send someone to
                                                                                           the working group after all.

 Halle-Vilvoorde constituency, it was          SP.A-Spirit and VLD. According to a
 agreed that a working group would be          CD&V memorandum, no room is left
 set up to examine the Court of Arbitra-       in that agreement for concessions to be
 tion’s ruling. That ruling states that        made on the Peeters/Martens circulars
 voters in the province of Flemish Bra-        on facilities, the language laws in Brus-
 bant are the victims of discrimination,       sels or the Minorities Treaty (which
 because their province does not form a        favours minority rights for the fran-
 constituency. As we know, Flemings            cophones in Flanders, ed.).                                                        ■
 and Francophones have different solu-         CD&V/N-VA on the one hand and the
 tions for this problem. The Flemings          purple parties on the other are each fol-
 want the constituency to be split,            lowing a strategy and course of their
 whilst the Francophones want an               own. CD&V and N-VA want the Flem-
                                                                                                      SOCIAL AGREEMENT
 extension of the Brussels Capital             ish bill on the splitting of Brussels-
 Region with a few Flemish municipali-         Halle-Vilvoorde to be discussed ‘im-
 ties where there is a resident Francoph-      mediately’ in Parliament. For the time      Flemish Government
 one majority or a return to the old divi-     being they are not sending any dele-         concludes employ-
 sion into electoral districts. All federal
 majority parties (PS, MR, SP.A and
                                               gates to the BHV working group that
                                               has just been set up. The fear is that
                                                                                              ment agreement
 VLD), but also the parties holding office     the purple majority parties will delay
 in the regional governments (CD&V,            the parliamentary debate on the pro-                       FF EDITOR
 N-VA, CdH and Ecolo), are taking part         posal for the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde
 in the conference, which is being             constituency to be split, pending a         The Flemish Government and the so-
 chaired by ministers Vande Lanotte            broad compromise.                           cial partners have agreed on a series of
 (SP.A) and Reynders (MR). Parallel to         For the purple majority parties, the de-    measures aimed at boosting employ-
 the conference, the bills on BHV are          bate in Parliament is not without po-       ment. The government will be ear-
 being discussed in the parliamentary          litical risk. If the Flemish parties uni-   marking EUR 24 million for these each
 home affairs committee. There the             laterally impose their will, the            year in 2005 and 2006. With that bud-
 Flemish Christian Democrats of                Francophones threaten setting in train      get extra jobs will be created for the
 CD&V and the Flemish nationalists of          the ‘alarm bell procedure’. The issue of    long-term unemployed in the social
 N-VA are aiming to force through the          BHV will then go to the federal govern-     economy sector and in the non-com-
 Flemish bill for a split with a Flemish       ment, with the risk of the Verhofstadt      mercial sector, and work experience
 majority. That would inevitably lead to       II cabinet falling. This is why purple is   posts will be offered to young persons
 the government falling, and is therefore      aiming for a compromise in the BHV          in part-time vocational training. It
 an opposition strategy, say the majority      working group. A watch is also being        wants to use tax benefits to stimulate
 parties. Initially CD&V and N-VA              kept on the steps that CD&V/N-VA            older workers to look for new work.
 refused to send delegates to the work-        wants to take from within the Flemish       Extra training places will be provided
 ing group, claiming that having the           Government. The VLD will not sup-           for in order to retrain unemployed per-
 working group set up was a delaying           port CD&V/N-VA in invoking a con-           sons for bottleneck professions. Em-
 tactic. But on 19 January they decided        flict of interests on the law on sanc-      ployers who take on a retrained em-
 to send someone after all, when a             tions for young offenders.                  ployee will only have to pay the
 majority in the parliamentary commit-                                                     difference between unemployment
 tee agreed to begin the discussion of the      WOUTER VERSCHELDEN • DE STANDA ARD •       benefit and the wage during the first
 bills next week (FF).                                      20 JANUARY                     two months. Finally employees can
                                                                                           supplement their professional qualifi-
           WIM VANDE VELDEN •                  The committee decided with a large          cation with certificates of work experi-
           DE TIJD • 18 JANUARY                majority to begin dealing with the bills    ence.
                                               on the splitting of the constituency
 The Flemish coalition partners in the         next week. At the proposal of CD&V                   WWW.VLAANDEREN.BE
 federal government, SP.A-Spirit and           parliamentary party chairman Pieter
 VLD, want to seek a compromise with           De Crem, everyone agreed that one of
 the Francophones, with give and take.         the ministers for institutional reform
 CD&V and N-VA are demanding that              (Vande Lanotte or Reynders) should be
 Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde be resolved          present at every committee meeting in                                              ■

focus on FLANDERS • 15 January - 21 January 2005 • Number 3
4                                            POLITICS AND SOCIAL POLICY

                                        PARTIES                                                        JOB MARKET

     Chairman of the Liberaal                                                               Renewed demand
                                                                                            on labour market
      Appel commits suicide                                                                            FF EDITOR
        Beysen had more or less found himself in the political sidelines
    his party is sticking by its plans to take part in the municipal elections          According to De Tijd (14 January) there
                                                                                        are clear signs that the Belgian labour
                                                                                        market is enjoying a revival. A study by

I  n the morning of 15 January the life-
   less body of Ward Beysen was fished
out of a lake near the University of
                                             Even the plan to pool the right-wing
                                             forces has failed. The Liberaal Appel
                                             has always been an Antwerp clique,
                                                                                        the situations vacant paper Vacature in-
                                                                                        dicates that the number of job adver-
                                                                                        tisements for highly skilled people in
Antwerp. The Antwerp public prosecu-         and even there not everyone ranged         the Flemish recruitment newspapers
tor’s office officially confirmed that it    themselves behind the new party.           Vacature, Job@ and the French-language
was a case of suicide, although no sui-      Right wing Antwerp figureheads such        Références rose last year by 19% to
cide note was found. Although the rea-       as Hugo Coveliers did not defect to it.    23,174. The rise in the number of va-
son for his suicide must be sought in        It speaks volumes that members of the      cancies was noticed for the first time in
the private realm, Beysen was chiefly        LA party executive are now hoping          the spring of 2004. Vacature also points
known as chairman of the right-wing          that Coveliers will come and save          out that the number of temporary em-
progressive Liberaal Appel (Liberal          them. After two years, Liberaal Appel      ployees has reached its highest level
Appeal), the tear-away party he formed       has thus proved to be a largely unsuc-     since 2000. According to Vacature the
after turning his back on the VLD. Up        cessful political project.                 resurgence is particularly marked in
until 1999 he had headed the Antwerp         The party is trying to look for a path     sectors such as information and com-
branch of the PVV - the forerunner of        between the VLD and the Vlaams Be-         munication technology (+70%), man-
the VLD. From that point on he was           lang, but lacks figureheads and grass-     agement consulting (+69%), logistics
constantly at variance with the ‘overly      roots support.                             (+35%), production and quality control
left-wing course’ steered by chairman        The themes that the party wants to         (+30%) and research and development
De Gucht and Prime Minister Verhofs-         broach - the course steered by the VLD     (+29%), engineering (+27%) and tech-
tadt, and turned his back on the VLD in      and the relationship with the extreme      nology (+26%).                          ■
January 2003 to set up his own party.        right wing - are now being thoroughly
However, the result he achieved with         discussed in the VLD itself. If the VLD
his LA in the federal elections of 2003      adjusts its course under pressure from       Two in three long-
was disappointing (1.21%). Since then        right-wing Liberals such as Hugo Cov-      term unemployed are
Beysen had more or less found himself        eliers and Jean-Marie Dedecker, LA
in the political sidelines, and did not      might be rendered completely redun-
                                                                                           looking for a job
even take part in the regional elections     dant.
of 2004. He wanted to go all out once        Next week the party executive will         Only 7% of the long-term unemployed
again by running in the municipal elec-      hold a crisis meeting to discuss what      whose job application behaviour has
tions with his Liberaal Appel, but infor-    should happen in the wake of Beysen’s      been checked by the National Employ-
mally talks were also held with a view       death. The party ought perhaps to pon-     ment Office (RVA) failed to turn up on
to a possible co-operation with the          der over whether it has, and will con-     the occasion of the obligatory checks,
Vlaams Belang. The deputy chairman           tinue to have, enough raisons d’être for   according to Employment Minister
of the Liberaal Appel, Jacques Kerre-        its continued existence.                   Freya Vanden Bossche (SP.A). Moreover
mans, confirmed that the Liberaal                                                       two in three unemployed persons were
Appel was sticking by its plans to take              WWW.LIBERAALAPPEL.ORG              able to show that they were actively
part in the municipal elections (FF).                                                   looking for work. These are the initial
                                                                                        findings of the new unemployed persons
 WIM WINCKELMANS • HET NIEUWSBL AD •                                                    control system, which was set up by
             17 JANUARY                                                                 her predecessor Frank Vandenbroucke
                                                                                        (SP.A). The new system is designed to
The strategy of Liberaal Appel to seek                                                  spur all the long-term unemployed to
contact with the Vlaams Blok has                                                        look for a job. Anyone who has not made
yielded little. The party even set itself                                               enough of an effort to do so must sign a
up as the lubricant with which the cor-                                                 commitment to start making applica-
don sanitaire in Antwerp could be bro-                                                  tions with the aid of careers guidance or
ken and the extreme right wing could                                                    training. Unemployed people who do
come to power. But the Vlaams Blok                                                      not accept the RVA’s invitation risk a
was not so keen on the idea of co-oper-                                                 suspension of at least four weeks. An
ation. On this occasion, too, Liberaal                                                  initial phase will address the 100,000
Appel would reportedly have gone into                                                   young people under the age of 30 who
the elections on its own, even if there                                                 have been unemployed for more than
had indeed been talks with the Vlaams                                                   seven months (in the case of the under-
Belang. Now, after Beysen’s death,                                                      25s) or more than 13 months (those aged
there is a very real chance that the VB                                                 between 25 and 30). Of these, 29% come
will be interested in co-operation at                                                   from Flanders, 55% from Wallonia and
all.                                                                               ■    16% from Brussels.                     ■

                                                                  focus on FLANDERS • 15 January - 21 January 2005 • Number 3
                                                        SOCIAL POLICY

                                    WAGE NEGOTIATIONS

    Social partners conclude                                                              unaffordable for employers and not
                                                                                          very attractive for employees. Unizo
                                                                                          CEO Karel Van Eetvelt stressed that
   wage agreement 2005-2006                                                               the arrival of this regulation repre-
                                                                                          sented a major advantage for employ-
       Both unions and employers show themselves to be satisfied with                     ers in small companies.
                              the agreement                                               Trade unions explain the 4.5% basic
                                                                                          wage rate very differently. According
                                                                                          to the socialist union ABVV and the

 O     n Tuesday morning unions and
       employers reached an inter-pro-
 fessional agreement on wage and
                                              the age of 58 is a matter for the career-
                                              end conference. However, three specif-
                                              ic regulatory arrangements are extend-
                                                                                          Christian ACV, it is a ‘significant wage
                                                                                          increase’. Subtracting the 3.3% index
                                                                                          from the basic wage rate leaves just
 employment conditions for the 2.2 mil-       ed for two years, namely for early          1.2%. For white-collar workers the
 lion or more employees in the private        retirement from the age of 56 for con-      wage-scale increase also still has to be
 sector. The agreement came as a sur-         struction workers unfit for work, for       subtracted, leaving a real wage in-
 prise since the social partners had bare-    people with a career of 33 years of         crease for them of 0.2%. Blue-collar
 ly got round to any negotiating in the       which 20 years have been in night work      workers do not have a wage-scale in-
 last few weeks, during which time they       or shift work, and the system of part-      crease, so the wage increase is much
 merely issued strongly worded state-         time early retirement. The wage agree-      higher for them.
 ments in the press. At the end of last       ment still has to be approved by the        The unions also point to the Nether-
 year a national trade union demonstra-       rank and file. The aim is for the agree-    lands. A wage increase of 4.5% is a
 tion made the atmosphere even more           ment to be definitively signed within       good deal more than the 2.5% employ-
 hostile. Last week things finally began      three weeks (FF).                           ees there managed at the very most to
 to get moving when the government                                                        pull out of the fire. ‘As regards the
 offered a bait in the form of a EUR 200          JOHAN CORTHOUTS/JANINE MEIJER •         wage margin this was the highest feasi-
 million reduction in charges for                     DE MORGEN • 19 JANUARY              ble result’, says ACV chairman Luc
 employers (EUR 80 million for over-                                                      Cortebeeck.
 time and EUR 120 million for shift           Yesterday trade unions and employers        The Rue de la Loi heaved a sigh of re-
 work) and urged them for a more              were the best of friends and jostled        lief yesterday. Now that a social agree-
 accommodating approach to be adopted         each other to explain the main advan-       ment has been reached, the ‘purple’
 as regards the wage increase demanded        tages of this agreement to their rank       government can get to work on the
 by the unions. In addition the govern-       and file in front of the cameras. The       much tougher debate on the career-end
 ment has set aside EUR 50 million for        employers stress that the basic wage        issue and the refinancing of the social
 employees on the lowest wages and for        rate of 4.5 percent is the lowest since     security system. Prime Minister Ver-
 employees at risk of not being paid in       1996. The employers’ organisation           hofstadt was particularly delighted
 the event of bankruptcy. A Fund for          VBO even said that with this agree-         with the agreement reached between
 Company Closures should protect              ment the Belgian economy is getting         the two sides of industry. According to
 them against this.                           rid of part (0.8%) of its wage handicap     the Premier, this has also provided
 Both unions and employers show               vis-à-vis other countries. An end has       proof that the collective bargaining
 themselves to be satisfied with the          come to successive wage increases.          model still works.
 agreement that has been reached. The         The employers also say they have
 rules governing overtime are being           made enormous progress in the field of                   WWW.ABVV.BE
 made more flexible at the employers’         flexibility. From now on employees                       WWW.ACW.BE
 request, and the number of hours dou-        can be asked to work 130 hours’ over-                     WWW.VBO.BE
 bled to 130 a year. A choice is being        time a year. Thanks to the government
 introduced between time in lieu and          subsidy these overtime hours will be a
 payment. For the first 65 hours the          lot cheaper for the business commu-
 employee can make the choice himself,        nity.
 whilst for the next 65 hours the sector      The tax charges on shift work and
 must take the decision. The good news        night work are also being brought
 for the employees is that a benchmark        down substantially. In total the gov-
 pay rise (the basic wage rate) of 4.5%       ernment is stumping up some EUR
 has been agreed on. In this account has      120 million for this. It is mainly heavy
 been taken of an index of 3.3% and           industry and the chemical sector that
 wage-scale increases of 1% for white-        will reap the advantages of the regula-
 collar workers, so that the margin for a     tion for shift work and night work.
 real wage increase remains small. In         They export 70% of their products and
 sectors that are performing well, the        can well use the subsidy in order to
 wage increase could thus end up being        help stay afloat in the tough competi-
 more than 4.5%, whilst in sectors faced      tion with neighbouring countries.
 with profitability problems it might be      On the other hand the reduction in
 rather less. A third key factor in the       charges for overtime will help SMEs
 wage agreement concerns the exten-           and the services sector.
 sion of the early retirement scheme.         In SMEs employees currently often
 Trade unions and employers agree that        work overtime which is then paid but
 the discussion on early retirement from      not declared, because otherwise it is                                             ■

focus on FLANDERS • 15 January - 21 January 2005 • Number 3
 6                                         INTERNATIONAL AID AND MEDIA

                                     EMERGENCY RELIEF                                                  TELEVISION

           Tsunami 12-12 up to                                                          Jan Verheyen steps
                                                                                        down as director of
              Eur 40 million                                                           programming at VTM
The account ( 000-0000012-12) of the Belgian emergency relief organisations
for the tsunami victims, will remain open for two years until the end of 2006                         FF EDITOR

                                                                                       The major news from the world of tele-

T     he fund-raising campaign ‘Tsuna-
      mi 12-12’ in aid of the victims of
the seaquake in South East Asia
                                            gency relief for South East Asia open
                                            for two years. Money will always still
                                            be needed, for the reconstruction of the
                                                                                       vision after the overwhelming success
                                                                                       of the tsunami benefit show was the
                                                                                       resignation of VTM’s director of pro-
promised a fantastic grand finale in the    affected areas’.                           gramming Jan Verheyen. The official
form of the TV show jointly organised       The large-scale sympathy action in aid     version of events is that the manage-
by the commercial channel VTM and           of the victims of the tsunami on Friday    ment of the commercial broadcasting
the public broadcasting corporation         evening brought in EUR 39.3 million.       company and Verheyen had come to
VRT on Friday 14 January. The pro-          ‘And it’s not over yet. There are cam-     the conclusion that his assignment had
gramme started with an amount of            paigns still under way all over the        in large part been fulfilled.
EUR 24 million on the board. After the      place. We will certainly get to forty      In 2003, together with his colleague
benefit show the figure stood at more       million euros. This surpasses our most     Bert Geenen, he was given the task of
than EUR 38 million. The person             optimistic expectations.’                  turning VTM into a strong family
responsible for the initiative, Flemish     Henon says that the challenge now is       channel again. Geenen would deal
Development Co-operation Minister           to continue to maintain the solidarity     with the channel’s strategy and profile,
Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) was pleased          with the tsunami victims. ‘We will         whilst Verheyen’s role was to set in
with the result and said that he hoped      regularly be telling the public what is    train an innovative range of pro-
the wave of solidarity would not be lim-    being done with the money in the           grammes, including a number of
ited to this campaign. The call centre      field. The Flemish Government has          drama series, that would get people
staffed by Flemish personalities            given us a donation of EUR 500,000,        talking. 2004 was announced as the
crashed under the volume of calls           but we are obliged to justify the way      year of the commercial channel’s great
(70,000). Companies also stole a march      the money is spent.’                       counter-offensive against the public
on each other in generosity. Those          The most important lesson that the aid     broadcasting corporation’s first chan-
donating more than EUR 125,000 could        organisations have learnt from the         nel TV1. A few programmes, such as
come and present their donation live on     television benefit show is that pooling    the docudrama series ‘de Pfaffs’ or the
the show. The mobile phone operators        of forces yields a considerable added      search-for-a-star programme ‘Idool’, hit
Belgacom, Base and Mobistar together        value. ‘As a consortium we have            the mark, and this year’s new drama
took the lead with almost EUR               achieved far more than we would have       series ‘De Matroesjka’s’ is also going
900,000, followed by the supermarket        been able to as individual organisa-       down well with the public. But across
chains Delhaize (EUR 600,000), Car-         tions. That has given us this access to    the board VTM gained barely 0.4% of
refour (EUR 370,000) and the KBC Bank       the media’.                                market share in 2004. The top 20 pro-
(EUR 250,000), and a campaign among         ‘Islands of Peace’ (Vredeseilanden) also   grammes with the highest audience
readers of the popular newspaper Het        raised 25% more funds this year than       still include 15 TV1 programmes, com-
Laatste Nieuws (EUR 227,000). The           last year - EUR 650,000 in all. This was   pared to just five VTM programmes.
National Lottery donated EUR 2 mil-         the first fund-raising campaign after      According to other sources, therefore,
lion - one euro per ticket from the most    the tsunami benefit that was not           it is chiefly the disappointing viewing
recent lottery draws. And it had previ-     specifically directed at South East        figures that are the reason for Ver-
ously been announced that the govern-       Asia.                                      heyen’s departure. In any case, Mike
ments had also stumped up handsome                                                     Verdrengh, who was director of pro-
amounts: the federal government                          WWW.1212.BE                   gramming during VTM’s golden years
donating EUR 30 million, the Flemish                                                   and still works as a consultant for the
Government EUR 500,000, the Wal-                                                       company, hinted at this in De Morgen
loon Government EUR 800,000 and the                                                    (18 January).
Brussels Government EUR 340,000.                                                       Jan Verheyen, whose roots are in the
The account (a/c 000-0000012-12)                                                       film sector and can point to a fine
opened by the Belgian emergency relief                                                 record of achievements as distributor,
organisations for the tsunami victims,                                                 producer and director, is now once
will remain open for two years until the                                               again craving for creative work and in
end of 2006, according to an announce-                                                 this job had too many management
ment by spokesman Philippe Henon                                                       obligations for his liking, as he says
(FF).                                                                                  himself. However, Verheyen will be
                                                                                       continuing to support a number of
      DE STANDA ARD • 17 JANUARY                                                       television drama projects and to pre-
                                                                                       sent films on the company’s second
‘It’s important that we get the message                                                channel, Kanaaltwee, until the end of
across to the public that it’s not all                                                 2005.
over’, said Henon. ‘Therefore we’re                                                                   WWW.VTM.BE
keeping the bank account for emer-                                                ■                                          ■

                                                                focus on FLANDERS • 15 January - 21 January 2005 • Number 3
                                                             CULTURE                                                               7


                                                                                            Belgium. The above-mentioned factors
   Little cause for celebration                                                             also explain why galleries that used to
                                                                                            specialise in contemporary art have
      in the antiques sector                                                                gone to the wall by the dozen in the
                                                                                            last 15 to 20 years, says De Maere.
                                                                                            Anyone who has a Magritte in their at-

 F   rom 21 to 30 January the fiftieth -
     and thus golden anniversary - edi-
 tion of the Belgian Antiques Fair is to be
                                                MARCEL SCHOETERS • KNACK • 19 JANUARY

                                               ‘Unfortunately we are being forced to
                                                                                            tic and wants to see some money in ex-
                                                                                            change for it, would be best advised to
                                                                                            sell it abroad. He says that this also
 held in the former freight station of         operate internationally,’ says De            means that Belgian heritage is disap-
 Turn & Taxis in the Brussels dock area.       Maere. ‘We can no longer compete             pearing to other countries. The largest
 2005 also marks 85 years since the Bel-       against the competition from abroad.         market is North America, which ac-
 gian Royal Chamber of Antique Deal-           During the fair in Maastricht the            counts for 60% of purchases by private
 ers was established, but antique dealers      Dutch Government allows a reduced            collectors and 75% of museum pur-
 in Belgium have little cause for celebra-     VAT rate of 5.5%. Here VAT is 21%,           chases. In Belgium the antique sector
 tion. The high taxes on art and antiques      fair or no fair. In Germany, too, VAT is     provides employment for 20,000 peo-
 are causing Belgian heritage to disap-        levied at only 6%. Unlike Belgium, a         ple, including the 10,000 second-hand
 pear abroad, according to Jan De Maere,       lot of countries do not levy a full resale   goods dealers.
 chairman of the Chamber (FF).                 right in auctions (a levy of 4% on lots
                                               with a hammer price of EUR 1,240 in                   WWW.ANTIQUES-FAIR.BE
                                               respect of artists who have been dead
                                               less than 70 years). And then there’s
                                               corporation tax, which is also higher in                                            ■

                                        CULTURE POLICY

          Policy memorandum                                                                 has changed drastically in recent years.
                                                                                            ‘That relationship should be one of
                                                                                            shared responsibility,’ says Anciaux.
           from Anciaux raises                                                              Anciaux is also examining the idea of
                                                                                            setting up a cultural investment com-
         fundamental questions                                                              pany. ‘The traditional grant system,
                                                                                            with its relatively cumbersome proce-
        he wants to look into the possibilities of setting up a cultural                    dures, its emphasis on a long-term
                             investment company                                             view and its inherent mistrust of any
                                                                                            form of commercialisation and profit
                                                                                            making, offers too little consolation

 C    ulture Minister Bert Anciaux
      (Spirit) has prepared a policy mem-
 orandum for 2004-2009 in which he
                                               that cannot be questioned, but that in
                                               practice not always generates a demon-
                                               strable added value. The question
                                                                                            here’. As regards intercultural charac-
                                                                                            ter and diversity, two more of the min-
                                                                                            ister’s hobbyhorses, Anciaux wants to
 raises a number of fundamental ques-          needs to be put in both directions: we       develop a three-part diversity concept
 tions about the existing priorities and       should ask ourselves not only who            during this legislature: more opportu-
 the accompanying subsidies in the cul-        needs a new structure of their own, but      nities for participation, a range of cul-
 tural sector. The minister feels that the     also which structures are perhaps no         tural activities that reflects intercul-
 institutionalisation of the cultural          longer of any use,’ says Anciaux, argu-      tural society, and cultural diversity
 field, be it in performing arts, heritage     ing here in favour of a differentiated       within the art houses.
 management or socio-cultural work, is         approach.
 no longer self-evident. Semi-profes-          One of his first policy challenges is the
 sional artistry should, in his view, be       creation of a policy framework for the
 given more opportunities. Anciaux also        semi-professional sector. ‘I discover,
 feels that partnership with cities and        with great interest, a whole host of cul-
 municipalities should take the place of       tural initiatives, which have risen up
 the tutelage approach adopted by the          from purely local community life and
 Flemish Authorities. And finally, he          sometimes also operate in small inter-
 wants to look into the possibilities of       national subcircuits. They often need
 setting up a cultural investment com-         professional impetus, but do not want
 pany, after the fashion of the Regional       to turn wholly professional for that
 Investment Company for the financing          reason. I want to avoid all these initia-
 of companies. Anciaux put forward his         tives nestling under the umbrella of
 plans before an audience of 500 guests        subsidised professional arts for lack of
 in the Brussels Kaaitheater (FF).             alternatives,’ says the minister.
                                               Anciaux is also of the view that the
        THOMAS PEETERS • DE TIJD •             cities and municipalities should pur-
               19 JANUARY                      sue a cultural policy together with the
                                               Flemish Authorities. He feels that the
 ‘Not all art has to fall into structures.     relationship between the district coun-
 A specific structure is too often a fetish    cils and the Flemish administration                                                 ■

focus on FLANDERS • 15 January - 21 January 2005 • Number 3
 8                                                            SPORT AND CULTURE

More than half of all men over 40 and                                                                                   NO FORM OF SPORT AT ALL
more than half of all women over 50 in
                                                         70       women
Flanders suffer from overweight (a                                men
body mass index of more than 25).
Flemings also do far too little sport –
an observation particularly striking
among women. These findings are re-
vealed in a large-scale survey among
5,170 Flemings carried out by the Re-
gional Office for Sport, Movement and                         18-24       25-29                 30-34                        35-39   40-44   45-49   50-54     55-59    60-64     65-69     70-74
                                                         %    year        year                  year                         year    year    year    year      year     year      year      year
Health.                               ■

               Diary                                    • 29 and 30 January: Text of Light (USA),
                                                        improvisations with films by Stan Brakhage,
                                                                                                                                               • Until 29 January: Panamarenko with Hinky
                                                                                                                                               Pinky Prova, Antwerps Luchtschipbouw,
                                                        Bozar, Brussels; info: and Text                                           Antwerp; info: 03/271.06.67
        M U S I C , D A N C E , T H E AT R E            of Light/Tony Conrad, De Vooruit, Ghent;                                               • Unil 20 February: Dedicated to a proposi-
                                                        info: 09/267.28.28                                                                     tion, Extra City, Antwerp; info 0484/42.10.70
• 23 January: Budapest Festival Orchestra               • 29 January: Booba, Ancienne Belgique,                                                • Until 28 February: Fake/not Fake, Jef
conducted by Ivan Fischer with Mahler and               Brussels; info:                                                      Vander Veken, restorer of the Flemish Primi-
Bartok; Concertgebouw, Bruges;                          02/548.24.24                                                                           tives, Groeninghemuseum, Bruges;
info:                              • 29 January: Dayna Kurtz and Buddy                                                    info:
• 24 to 30 January: Blush, Ultima Vez (dance)           Miller, Handelsbeurs, Ghent;                                                           • Until 30 January: Rodin back in Brussels,
with music by Eugene Edwards, Hallen van                info: 09 265 91 65                                                 Royal Library, Brussels; 50 Bronze sculptures
Schaarbeek, Brussels; info:                  • 31 January: Eliane Elias quartet, Ancienne                                           by Rodin, Claudel and Degas;
• 25 January: Storioni Trio Amsterdam with              Belgique, Brussels; info:                                            info: 02/519.53.61
piano work by Haydn, Schumann and                       02/548.24.24                                                                           • Until 23 January: Body and Cosmos, Pre-
Brahms; De Singel, Antwerp;                             • 2 to 4 February: Jan Fabre with choreogra-                                           Columbian sculptures from Mexico, ING
info: 03/248.28.28                      phy on Angel of Death, Elle était et elle est                                          Cultural Center, Brussels; info: 02/547.22.92
• 26 January: Oidipus Sürgünde, director :              and Etant données, Bozar, Brussels;                                                    • Until 10 April: Retrospective Floris Jespers,
Sahika Tekand (Turkey) with Studio Oyun-                info:                                                                     exhibition, PMMK, Ostend;
culari, Bozar, Brussels; info:                                                                                                    info: 059/50.81.18
• 26 January: Katerina Papadopoúlou,                                                                                                           • 21 to 30 January: Art and Antiques fair,
Bijloke, Ghent; info:                                                                                                           St Peters abbey, Ghent
• 27, 28 and 29 January: De Nachten with                                                     EXPO                                              • Until 27 February: Dear ICC, aspects of
Henry Rollins and others; De Singel,                                                                                                           contemporary art in Belgium, exhibition,
Antwerp; info: 03/248.28.28             • Until 27 February: Tatu-Tattoo, exhibition,                                          Muhka, Antwerp; info:
• 28 January: Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam,                Royal Museum for Art and History, Cinquan-                                             • Until 3 April: Anton Corbijn, exhibition,
classical songs from South India, Zuiderpers-           tenaire, Brussels;                                                                     Fotomuseum, Antwerp; info: 03/242.93.00
huis, Antwerp;                    info: 02/741.72.11 or                                            
03/248.01.00                                            • Until 4 May: Rudolf Lange, war witness,                                              • Until 30 January: Belgian Antiques Fair,
• 27 January: Mario Cortes (Flamenco), Han-             In Flanders Fields Museum, Ypres; info:                                                Turn & Taxis, Brussels; info: www.antiques-
delsbeurs, Ghent; info:                                                         
09 265 91 65                                            • Until 28 February: Maarten Van Severen,
• 28, 29 and 30 January: Mali …..Mississipi             exhibition, Design Museum, Ghent;
Blues is everywhere with Cootie Stark, Ali              info:
Farka Touré and Otis Taylor, Bozar, Brussels;           • Until 30 January: Malign Muses, when
info:                                      Fashion turns back, Fashion Museum
• 29 January: Soile Isokosky (soprano) with             (MOMU), Antwerp; info:
Marita Viitasalo, Lieder by Mozart, Brahms,             • Until 13 March: The Heart, exhibition,
Debussy and Strauss; De Singel, Antwerp;                Museum Dr Guislain, Ghent;
info: 03/248.28.28                      info:                                                                                                               ■

                                                                                           r la flandre

                                                                                rn • foc

                                                                                                               us on flan

  Editor in chief: Frank Vandecaveye                                                                                                           • Translation: Eurologos

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                                                                                                focus on FLANDERS • 15 January - 21 January 2005 • Number 3

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