focus on

Document Sample
focus on Powered By Docstoc
					                                                   focus on
       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 9 • 25 February – 3 March 2006

      KBC on the takeover trail                                                                                   INTRODUCTION

         in Central Europe                                                                                          W ith the GermantheEndesa
                                                                                                                          E.ON’s bid for     Span-
                                                                                                                    ish electricity producer
                                                                                                                      and the announcement by the
                                                                                                                      Italian company Enel that it
                                                                                                                      would make an offer for the

 T    he major providers of combined            And KBC also has concrete plans for                                   French group Suez, a concen-
                                                                                                                      tration wave appears to be
      banking and insurance services,           expansion in Serbia, Croatia and Roma-         under way in the European energy sector. In a
 Fortis and KBC, have had an excellent          nia. Here the Slovenian subsidiary NLB,        defensive reflex, both Endesa and Suez have
                                                                                               sought their salvation in national mergers. In Spain
 year. The Dutch/Belgian group Fortis,          in which KBC has a 34% stake, is play-         Endesa is joining forces with Gas Natural, and in
 which published its annual results ear-        ing the role of bridgehead. KBC is also        France Suez is doing the same with Gaz de France
 ly because a briefcase containing the          aiming for a larger stake in NLB and           – with the French government’s active support.
                                                                                               After fierce criticism of the protectionist manoeu-
 results was stolen, increased its profit by    wants to gain majority control of the          vres, EC president Barroso wagged a warning fin-
 32% to EUR 3.9 billion. KBC, the Flem-         bank, be it in one or several steps. It is     ger and promised that the competition rules
                                                                                               would be complied with to the letter.
 ish fellow banker-cum-insurer, recorded        having talks with the Slovenian govern-        The Suez-GdF merger does indeed threaten com-
 a record profit last year of EUR 2.25 bil-     ment on the matter (FF).                       petition in our country. Electrabel, the largest Bel-
                                                                                               gian electricity producer became a wholly-owned
 lion. That is 39% up on the previous                                                          subsidiary of Suez last year, whilst the second,
 year. For that matter, Central Europe is         MICHAEL SEPHIHA • DE TIJD • 3 MARCH          much smaller producer, SPE, is half owned by Gaz
 increasingly becoming a second home                                                           de France. The new combination attains a market
                                                                                               share of 90% of sold electricity, whilst on the gas
 market for KBC. In the Czech Republic          In Serbia the Belgian group is targeting       market Suez subsidiary Distrigas and Gaz de France
 and Hungary KBC is the second largest          the pubic-sector insurer DDOR. The             together account for 97%. That prompted de Tijd
                                                                                               (2 March) to conclude that the Belgian govern-
 bank, and in Slovenia its subsidiary NLB       privatisation of the second largest Ser-       ment would have done better opting for the Enel
 is in fact the country’s largest bank. It      bian insurance group was started at the        camp, since the Enel-Suez combination had left
                                                                                               more room for competition.
 also has a not insignificant market            end of last year. The DDOR’s network           Gerard Mestrallet, Suez CEO and new number one
 share in Poland and Slovakia. Last year        has 94 branches. The Slovenian Nova            in the Suez-GdF merger company, did his very best
 the Central European establishments            Ljubljanska Banka (NLB) already con-           to get the Belgian government on his side. He
                                                                                               promised that the ‘pax electrica’ would not be
 already provided for 20% of the profit,        trols the Continental Banka there. In          touched. In this, Suez promised last year that it
 and next year that should rise to 25%.         Montenegro NLB owns Euromarket                 would sell the unused Electrabel power stations,
                                                                                               and would put a substantial volume of electricity
                                                Bank. And in neighbouring Bosnia it            for sale on a Belgian stock exchange. He also let it
               CONTENTS                         already owns Tuzlanska Banka, CSB              be understood that he could live with a reduction
                                                                                               in Gaz de France’s Belgian gas interests. Many
                                                Bank, Razvojna Banka and LHB Bank or           insiders assume that the merger will not withstand
 Justice                                        Banja Luka.                                    the competition rules on that market.
 Fehriye Erdal found guilty of terrorism 2      KBC also has takeover plans in Croatia,        To placate the Belgian government even more,
                                                                                               Mestrallet is now calling the merger an ‘opération
 Fehriye Erdal vanished                  2      where the banker-cum-insurer has its           franco-belge’. According to De Tijd (2 March) the
                                                sights set on Splitska Banka. ‘We have         Belgians are in that respect being used as a fig leaf
                                                                                               to camouflage the French chauvinism behind the
 Agriculture, social policy and economy         submitted an indicative offer on the           strategy. But even though decisions are taken in
 Tuybens reveals salaries of senior             matter’, André Bergen, deputy chair-           Paris, the enormous Belgian contribution to Suez
                                                                                               cannot be ignored, points out Trends (2 March).
 managers of state enterprises              3   man of the board of directors of the KBC       Seventy percent of Suez’s profits are of Belgian
 Bird flu: chicken breeders suffer losses   3   Group, confirmed for the first time.           making: Electrabel, Tractebel (energy assets out-
 Belgian energy market after the merger         However, due to an old financial dis-          side Europe), Distrigas (natural gas trading) and
                                                                                               Fluxys (natural gas transmission). It is this Belgian
 Suez-GdF                                   4   pute between Slovenia and Croatia,             energy pillar that succeeded in reviving fortunes at
 Suez-GdF will have to downsize             5   KBC is not welcome in the country. But         Suez, which was making a loss in 2002 and 2003.
                                                                                               According to Trends, the merger is a normal mar-
 Belgium keeps borders closed for               that is not stopping the group from tak-       ket development. Mestrallet has a point when he
 employees from Eastern Europe              5   ing part in the bidding process.               stresses the synergy between gas and electricity in
                                                                                               his industrial project. Gas-fired power stations are
 Inbev management and trade unions              In Romania KBC is not planning any             playing an ever greater role in that. On markets
 heading for confrontation                  6   acquisitions, but is working on setting        where gas is expensive, Suez-GdF can sell gas, and
                                                up its own banking subsidiary. This            on other markets gas is used to produce electricity,
                                                                                               that can be sold as well.
 Politics and public health                     should be up and running this year. Last       But the main motive for Suez opting for a merger
 Leterme’s popularity peaks in poll         6   year the Belgian group did not take part       is its vulnerability. With its lucrative (Belgian) ener-
                                                                                               gy division, it is an attractive prey for a takeover.
 New criteria for recognition as GP         7   in the bidding for BCR, the largest bank       Three quarters of its shares are listed and it has a
                                                in the country, because the price tag          weak financial balance sheet with substantial cash
                                                                                               assets and numerous liabilities.
 Culture                                        was too high.
 People from Antwerp turned Frankfurt                                          Frank Vandecaveye | editor in chief
 into a financial centre              7                       table page 3             ■

focus on FLANDERS • 25 February - 3 March 2006 • Number 9
2                                                             JUSTICE


    Fehriye Erdal and DHKP-C                                                              Anyone knowingly and voluntarily
                                                                                          forming part of an organisation that at-
     found guilty of terrorism                                                            tempts to achieve its aims through vio-
                                                                                          lence is punishable. Even if that person
                                                                                          has not committed any crime in Bel-
                                                                                          gium. The judges in Bruges point to the

F   ive years ago the police found a
    stash of arms, false identity papers
and detonation mechanisms for explo-
                                            the ringleaders, Dursun Karatas, has
                                            been sentenced to five years (FF).
                                                                                          fact that the DHKP-C militants are ‘fa-
                                                                                          natical’ and ‘permanently dangerous’.
                                                                                          Their presence on Belgian soil cannot
sives in an apartment in the Flemish        FILIP VERHOEST • DE STANDA ARD • 1 MARCH      be tolerated. There were tight security
coastal town of Duinbergen. The apart-                                                    measures in force around the court
ment turned out to be the safe house for    EThe other DHKP-C members who                 building in Bruges. The many DHKP-C
the Turkish Popular Liberation Army         were caught in 1999 in an apartment in        sympathisers who had turned up
(DHKP-C), a Marxist-Leninist Turkish        Duinbergen, near Knokke, were each            chanted slogans for ‘freedom of expres-
movement that swears by the armed           sentenced to five years’ imprisonment,        sion and association’.
struggle against the Turkish State.         like Erdal. The public prosecutor had         After this judgement it is expected that
DHKP-C members who were being pur-          called for ten years for the ringleaders,     the Belgian judiciary will close the
sued in Germany were able to use the        and five for Erdal. Four of the accused       DHKP-C information office in Brus-
hiding place. Because the movement          were acquitted, since they did not            sels. At a press conference in June 2004
has already carried out several attacks     knowingly take part in the Turkish            a spokesman for the movement justi-
in its homeland and executed a number       Popular Liberation Army’s activities.         fied a bomb attack on a bus in Istanbul
of ‘traitors’, that country is still        It is the second time that a Belgian          which went wrong, and in which three
demanding the extradition of all            court has applied the anti-terrorism          people died. According to the judge,
DHKP-C members. Belgium is not              law of 1 January 2004 to an extremist         that is ‘intolerable’. The court ordered
acceding to that for the time being, but    group. This had previously happened           the immediate detention of six of the
brought charges against the members of      before the tribunale correctionnel            seven who were convicted, including
the Turkish group in the criminal           (criminal court) in Brussels, with the        Erdal. She was not present at the sit-
court. Fehriye Erdal, the symbol of the     Groupe Islamique Combattant Maro-             ting, but will be taken to prison from
DHKP-C’s fight, was sentenced to four       cain (GICM).                                  her undercover address. Some of the
years’ imprisonment. The leader of the      The reasoning that the judges in the          convicted persons have already said
group, Musa Asoglu, was given a six-        criminal court in Brussels and Bruges         that they will appeal.
year prison sentence, whilst another of     have followed is the same in each case.                                             ■

        Fehriye Erdal vanished                                                            tify the Ministry of the Interior if she
                                                                                          left her place of residence. According
                                                                                          to a government source, she had done
                                                                                          this in exemplary fashion for six years.

A    fter the Turk Fehriye Erdal was
     sentenced on 28 February to four
years’ imprisonment, the Belgian
                                            der. Turkey had asked for Erdal’s extra-
                                            dition for the third time, because she
                                            has to stand trial for her involvement in
                                                                                          Never had there been any incidents,
                                                                                          the government source said - until the
                                                                                          evening of Monday 27 February.
National Security Department made           a triple murder in Istanbul. The              Then the National Security Depart-
the very unpleasant discovery that the      chances of her being extradited, howev-       ment discovered that the DHKP-C
DHKP-C militant was not at the safe         er, are slim, since what is involved is a     militant had fled. Nonetheless, Erdal
house assigned to her by the Ministry of    political crime, says De Standaard. For       had been under heightened surveil-
the Interior. Erdal, who did not appear     Turkey and also other countries, we are       lance by the National Security Depart-
in court, seems to have vanished. The       the country that not only offers terror-      ment since 19 February, in the run-up
Interior and Justice Ministers Dewael       ists protection, but also lets them go,       to the court’s judgement. But even
(VLD) and Onkelinx (PS) announced           opines Het Laatste Nieuws. The Flem-          though the National Security Depart-
that on Monday evening she left the         ish opposition party CD&V thinks that         ment had been keeping an eye on Erdal
house, and from that point on the           ministers Dewael (VLD) and Onke-              for some time, it was not able to arrest
National Security Department has lost       linckx (PS) have blundered over Erdal’s       her, even if she fled abroad, according
her trail. Since Erdal was not under        disappearance, and wants to demand an         to a spokesman for the Ministry of Jus-
arrest, only a court issuing an order for   explanation on the matter in Parlia-          tice. There was no possibility of the
her detention could prevent her from        ment (FF).                                    National Security Department detain-
fleeing abroad. An international war-                                                     ing her before the conviction in Bruges.
rant for her arrest has now been issued.        FILIP VERHOEST • DE STANDAARD • 2 MARCH   On Tuesday evening, after the court’s
The result is that Belgium has once                                                       order for her immediate detention,
again been made to look a fool on the       Erdal asked for political asylum in           house searches were carried out in
international stage, comment a number       2000. As a result of this, the then Inte-     known DHKP-C addresses in Brussels,
of Flemish newspapers such as Het           rior Minister could force her, on the         but to no avail. An international war-
Belang Van Limburg, De Standaard            grounds of the aliens law, to reside in a     rant for Erdal’s arrest has now been is-
and Het Laatste Nieuws. The Turkish         particular place for the period that the      sued. She may have received help from
press, in particular, is not charitable     asylum application was being exam-            the DHKP-C networks to escape.
about the Belgian government’s blun-        ined. She promised that she would no-                                               ■

                                                                     focus on FLANDERS • 25 February - 3 March 2006 • Number 9
                                             ECONOMY AND AGRICULTURE                                                                  3

                                         STATE ENTERPRISES                                                  BIRD FLU

  Tuybens reveals the salaries                                                                 Chicken breeders
                                                                                              already suffer losses
  of senior managers of state
          enterprises                                                                                         FF EDITOR

  He believes state enterprises should set an example in the field of sustain-
                    able and socially responsible enterprise                                Anyone owning chickens or other
                                                                                            poultry is obliged, as of 1 March, to
                                                                                            pen them up or screen them off. The

 O     n 28 February State Secretary for
       State Enterprises Bruno Tuybens
 (SP.A) revealed how much the senior
                                                                                            local police is assumed to monitor
                                                                                            this. Anyone not screening off his birds
                                                                                            will receive a warning and will have to
 managers of Belgium’s autonomous                SERGE MAMPAEY • DE TIJD • 1 MARCH          put his house in order within 24 hours.
 state enterprises earned. Belgacom                                                         If that does not happen, the police will
 CEO Didier Bellens comes out on top,         At last the government is setting a good      draw up a report and confiscate the an-
 with EUR 2.04 million and EUR                example. By publishing the salaries,          imals. The Federal Food Agency
 395,000 in share options, whilst Johny       Tuybens wants to open the social              (FAVV) is asking the municipalities to
 Thijs of de Post takes home a gross          debate on the pay of senior managers,         draw up a register of all people owning
 salary of EUR 800,000, and the senior        and create the necessary transparency.        poultry for hobby purposes. The regis-
 managers of the NMBS (Belgian Rail-          The excesses at loom manufacturer             ter should make it easier to implement
 ways), Jannie Haek, Mark Deschee-            Picanol show that companies in which          measures in the event of an outbreak
 maeker and Luc Lallemand, earn EUR           the public is involved are better at lay-     of the disease. The FAVV is not about
 475,000, 490,000 and 410,000 respec-         ing their cards on the table as regards       to make an exception for zoos that
 tively. Tuybens wants to reveal the          the remuneration of their senior man-         have vaccinated their birds. The main
 salaries of the other managers of state      agement and directors. Excesses can           aim of the penning-up measures is to
 enterprises in the near future. By way of    then be avoided. State enterprises are        prevent professional poultry farmers
 comparison, a member of the manage-          the property of the state, and therefore      from being affected.
 ment in a private company from the           of each and every one of us. Listed com-      In the meantime ‘frightened’ con-
 Bel-20 earns on average EUR 1 million,       panies have thousands of small share-         sumers are eating less and less
 according to a survey published in           holders, and they have a right to know        chicken. According to the retail federa-
 Trends. In comparison with these kinds       how their money is being used.                tion Fedis, there has already been a
 of figures, the salary of Prime Minister     But company managers continue to              15% drop (Het Nieuwsblad, 2 March).
 Verhofstadt (EUR 207,000) pales into         keep their remuneration cloaked in            The falling demand has caused the
 insignificance.                              secrecy. The Lippens code on sound            price that the 1,200 chicken breeders
 Tuybens justifies his initiative in De       management calls on listed companies          can obtain for their chickens has fallen
 Morgen. He believes state enterprises        to publish their directors' and man-          to below cost price, so that they are al-
 should set an example in the field of        agers' pay, but it is not an obligation.      ready making a loss now. For the con-
 sustainable and socially responsible         And a bill for the publication of indi-       sumer on the other hand, chicken has
 enterprise. Tuybens wants more open-         vidual salaries has been put on the back      not yet become cheaper. The surplus
 ness in state enterprises, since every       burner due to a number of delaying            slaughtered chickens are provisionally
 taxpayer is - in a manner of speaking - a    manoeuvres.                                   being stored in refrigerators.
 shareholder and every citizen a direct or    Publication of the top salaries ought to          
 indirect customer, according to the          have been self-evident for a listed com-
 State Secretary. His initiative was met      pany. Only in that way can enterprises
 with approving commentaries in Het           create openness and remove distrust
 Belang van Limburg, De Standaard and         among the public or their shareholders.
 De Tijd. The senior managers them-
 selves are irritated at Tuybens’ move,                                               ■                                               ■
 because he did not consult them about
 it. The alliance to which Tuybens
 belongs (SP.-A-Spirit) wants the bill on
 publication of the salaries - the so-
 called Picanol law - to be approved in         MARKET POSITION OF KBC GROUP IN BELGIUM, CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE
 Parliament on 7 March. The publica-
                                                market share       banking business       life assurance         non-life insurance
 tion could also hamper the current                                                                              business
                                                (ranking)                                 business
 negotiations under way in the rail sec-                                                                         8%
                                                belgium            22%                    15%
 tor and the national talks on wage                                                                              4%       (6th)
                                                hungary            11%      (2nd)         4%        (7th)
 restraint. ACV chairman Cortebeeck                                                                              11%      (2nd)
                                                poland             5%       (8th)         3%        (7th)
 regards it as unjust to urge employees                                                                          4%       (6th)
                                                czech republic     21%      (2nd)         8%        (4th)
 to accept wage restraint, ‘whilst Bel-                                                                          4%       (4th)
                                                slovakia           6%       (4th)         4%        (9th)
 gian company managers are earning an                                                                            —
                                                slovenia           41%      (1st)         6%        (5th)
 average of EUR 800,000 a year’ (FF).
                                                                                                                            source: KBC

focus on FLANDERS • 25 February - 3 March 2006 • Number 9
4                                                          ECONOMY


   Belgian energy market
                                                                                               in Belgium. The Belgian government
                                                                                               does not have to sit and wait re-
                                                                                               signedly for the outcome. It can ask
 becomes even more French                                                                      the European Commission itself to
                                                                                               transfer the matter to the Belgian

   with merger Suez-GDF                                                                        Competition Board.
                                                                                               It is not yet clear which activities Suez
                                                                                               would have to sell. According to a se-
 The government wants to press Suez for a quicker fulfilment of the ‘Bel-                      nior staff member of the government,
gian’ guarantees it had given in October. Those guarantees were fixed in a                     it would in any case have to concern
         letter, when Suez made a full buyout bid for Electrabel                               more than SPE. SPE, the second largest
                                                                                               electricity company in the country, is
                                                                                               part owned by Gaz de France. SPE is

T    he French energy groups Suez and
     Gaz de France have announced
they will be merging. In this way Suez
                                            However, according to the government,
                                            it is clear that in the merger case, the
                                            European competition authorities first
                                                                                               especially strong as a supplier of elec-
                                                                                               tricity, with a share of some 20% in
                                                                                               Flanders and Wallonia. The question is
avoids being taken over by the Italian      have to do their work (FF).                        whether it would be a good thing for
energy company Enel. The merger has                                                            Belgian energy policy if the gas trans-
far-reaching consequences for the Bel-          ISABEL ALBERS AND PASCAL SERTYN •              mission company Fluxys remained in
gian energy market.                                DE STANDA ARD • 28 FEBRUARY                 the hands of the large French energy
The presence of Suez on this market                                                            group.
was already overwhelming, since Suez        In order nonetheless to enable compe-              Next week there will be a meeting be-
subsidiary Electrabel is by far the         tition, Suez/Gaz de France will imme-              tween Suez and the senior members of
largest electricity producer and still      diately have to dispose of certain parts           the Belgian government. A meeting be-
supplies 64% of electricity to house-       or shareholdings in Belgium, according             tween the Prime Minister and the
holds. In addition Suez is also the main    to government sources. Officially the              Minister-Presidents on this matter is
shareholder in the two largest Belgian      government is not (yet) putting for-               also being called. The government
gas companies Fluxys and Distrigaz.         ward this standpoint. Prime Minister               wants to press Suez for a quicker fulfil-
However, the merger also brings the         Guy Verhofstadt has even pronounced                ment of the ‘Belgian’ guarantees it had
electricity suppliers Luminus and City-     qualified support for the project, with            given in October. Those guarantees
power into the merger company. Lumi-        the request that Zeebrugge be assigned             were fixed in a letter, called the ‘pax
nus supplies electricity to 15% of          a greater role in the giant’s gas distribu-        electrica’, when Suez made a full buy-
households, and Citypower 6%. Both          tion.                                              out bid for Electrabel, and relate,
companies are subsidiaries of SPE,          The government cannot yet come out                 among other things, to the sale of pro-
which is controlled to the tune of 51%      with this standpoint either. It is first           duction sites. The government feels
by the British company Centrica and         waiting for the judgement of the (Euro-            that a speeding-up of the measures
Gaz de France and is also the second        pean and Belgian) competition authori-             would be a positive signal for the Bel-
electricity producer in the country. The    ties. If they are of the view that the cre-        gian energy market.
other electricity suppliers Nuon and        ation of the new giant would lead to an
Essent still sell some 13% of the elec-     unlawful monopoly situation, they can
tricity, but in fact buy that from elec-    press more for a ‘slimmed-down’ Suez                                                        ■
tricity producer Electrabel. Flemish
Energy Minister Kris Peeters says he is
concerned about the Flemish energy                                 THE LARGEST ENERGY CONCERNS IN EUROPE
market. He is asking the competition
                                                            THE LARGEST GROUPS ON THE STOCK EXCHANGE (27 FEB IN BILLION EURO)
authorities, such as the CREG, to keep
                                                electricité de france      83.86
a close eye on the matter. Prime Minis-                        e.on (d)    66.03
ter Verhofstadt is demanding that Suez                          enel (i)   43.48
continue to meet all the commitments                           rwe (d)     41.48
it entered into when it obtained full                      endesa (sp)     29.73
                                                       gaz de france       28.50
control over Electrabel, and to do so                       iberdrola      24.52
without any changes.                                    electrabel (b)     23.10
Thus it is reportedly stipulated in the           scottish power (gb)      17.60
‘pax electrica’ that Electrabel must sell                centrica (gb)     16.08
                                                                                   0      20         40        60        80       100
10% of its production capacity. Accord-
ing to government sources, Electrabel                       ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION: CAPACITY (IN MEGAWATT)
is indeed prepared to sell its two Flem-        electricité de france 125,447
ish and one Walloon power stations                    vattenfall (sw) 47,061
with a joint capacity of 1,500 mega-                           e.on (d) 44,283
watts, provided it does not have to pay                         enel (i) 42,000
                                                               rwe (d) 34,957
the planned levy of EUR 150 million on                  electrabel (b) 28,193
its unused power stations. But accord-                      iberdrola 25,200
ing to De Tijd (25 February) the Social-                   endesa (sp) 18,995
ists do not agree to the planned levy             scottish power (gb) 15,720
from Minister Freya Vanden Bossche’s                             edp (p) 11,373
                                                                                   0      30         60        90       120       150
(SP.A) budget being removed.
                                                                                                                    source: DE STANDAARD

                                                                     focus on FLANDERS • 25 February - 3 March 2006 • Number 9
                                             ECONOMY AND SOCIAL POLICY                                                               5

                 MERGER                                                          JOB MARKET

  Merger Suez/Gaz de                              Belgium keeps borders
  France will have to
 donwnsize in Belgium                           closed for employees from
                FF EDITOR                            Eastern Europe
 The energy group that is to be created       an exception is made for East Europeans who come here to fill a ‘bottle-
 out of the merger between Gaz de                     neck’ vacancy, for which no Belgian workers are found.
 France and Suez is prepared to dispose
 of some of its parts if it turns out that
 its position on the Belgian energy mar-
 ket has become too dominant. The
 statement was made by Gerard Mes-
                                             B    elgium will will not be throwing its
                                                  borders open to Polish and other
                                             East European workers on 1 May, as
                                                                                              rendered liable if they work with
                                                                                              malafide subcontractors.
                                                                                              Employment Minister Peter Van
 trallet, chairman of the board of direc-    Spain and Finland will be doing. First           Velthoven (SP.A) wants to implement
 tors of the merger-group-to-be, at a        four legal and juridical gaps have to be         the measures as quickly as possible,
 press conference in Paris on 28 Febru-      filled. The first condition is that foreign      and once that has happened, the bor-
 ary. The merger project is to be submit-    workers who come here to work tem-               ders can be opened fully. But in the
 ted to the European Commission for          porarily are electronically registered           meantime a back door has already been
 approval in April. Mestrallet also reit-    with the National Social Security                left wider open. The procedure for
 erated his intention to comply with all     Office (RSZ). A second requirement is            making jobs for which too few Belgians
 agreements (the so-called ‘pax elec-        that the main contractor be severally            come forward open to foreigners is
 trica’) with the Belgian government,        responsible for compliance with the              made more flexible. The regions
 which were made last year when the          wage and employment conditions of                should draw up lists with the vacan-
 Belgian electricity producer Electrabel     foreign employees at his disposal.               cies that are difficult to fill. By 1 June
 was taken over in full.                     Thirdly the federal and regional labour          there will then be regulation under
 The same day Giulio Tremonti, the           inspectorate should cooperate more               which East European can obtain a
 Italian Finance Minister, flew to Brus-     effectively. And finally foreign workers         work permit in five days.
 sels, to raise the issue of the French      and trade unions must be able to take            The regulation is partly inspired by the
 manoeuvre with Neelie Kroes, EU             cases to the Belgian courts. Nonethe-            High Council for Employment which
 Competition Commissioner. The Ital-         less an exception is made for East Euro-         has just prepared an opinion on the
 ian government is calling the merger        peans who come here to fill a ‘bottle-           opening of borders. Deputy Chairman
 an unacceptably protectionist attempt       neck’ vacancy, for which no Belgian              Jan Smets of the High Council sees
 to obstruct the takeover by the Italian     workers are found. The list of ‘bottle-          that the number of work permits, self-
 company Enel.                               neck’ professions must be ready by June          employed persons and seconded em-
 In Flanders, too, the merger is being       (FF).                                            ployees (secondment offers services
 closely monitored by the Flemish Reg-                                                        companies the possibility of seconding
 ulatory Body for the Electricity and         WIM WINCKELMANS • HET NIEUWSBL AD •             employees to another EU country to
 Gas Market (VREG). This body warned                     25 FEBRUARY                          work there temporarily in the frame-
 that the merger would lead to competi-                                                       work of the free movement of services,
 tion on the Belgian energy market be-       By 2009 our border will be open to res-          ed.) has already increased in recent
 ing almost completely removed. The          idents of the new EU Member States in            years. ‘In Poland in particular there is
 liberalisation of the Flemish market, in    any case, but up until then the ‘old             already a labour reserve that can easily
 particular, has recently had a              member states’ can still protect their           be deployed here’, says Smets.
 favourable impact on gas and electric-      borders. In the Belgian government               The ball is now in the court of Flemish
 ity prices in the region, as is apparent    there was disagreement over the issue.           Employment Minister Frank Vanden-
 from a comparison with Wallonia. An         The Socialists wanted to protect the             broucke (SP.A) who has to decide for
 average Flemish family pays 13% less        labour market for a while longer - until         which ‘bottleneck’ professions the
 for its electricity and as much as 24%      cases of abuse could be adequately               door can be opened. Traditionally this
 less for its gas consumption, than a        combated -, whilst the Liberals were in          involves vacancies for construction
 Walloon family. The merger threatens        favour of the borders being opened               workers and cleaners, mostly profes-
 to nullify this salutary effect, accord-    more quickly. After a week’s difficult           sions for which many East Europeans
 ing to the VREG.                            negotiating, a compromise was                    are now being recruited. Vanden-
                        reached on Friday. Officially the bor-           broucke supports the measure, but is
                                             ders are to remain closed to East Euro-          not prepared to open up all ‘bottleneck’
                                             peans. The Belgian government first              professions just like that. ‘Only if we
                                             wants to take adequate measures                  know that the sectors in question are
                                             against cases of abuse involving illegal         already making a maximum effort in
                                             aliens. Thus the electronic registration         the field of employee training and for-
                                             of foreign employees will be intro-              mation and only if we see that they are
                                             duced, the inspectorate departments              still experiencing staff shortages, will
                                             will be working in closer cooperation,           the sector come into consideration’.
                                             and the trade unions should be able to       
                                             go to court if cases of abuse come to
                                        ■    their attention. Contractors are also                                                    ■

focus on FLANDERS • 25 February - 3 March 2006 • Number 9
6                                                ECONOMY AND POLITICS

                                        BREWERIES                                                             OPINION POLL

                                                                                                  Leterme’s popularity
       InBev management and                                                                             peaks
      trade unions heading for                                                                                   FF EDITOR

           confrontation                                                                      In the latest February poll by VRT/De
                                                                                              Standaard the CD&V/N-VA alliance,
   The Walloon Economic Affairs Minister Jean-Claude Marcourt (PS)                            with 29.1%, remains the largest politi-
reproached InBev for announcing the shedding of 200 jobs on the same day                      cal formation in Flanders. The alliance
               that it announced profits of EUR 1 billion                                     thereby fares 2.5% better than its re-
                                                                                              sult in the Flemish elections of 2004.
                                                                                              The SP.A-Spirit alliance (20.4%, +

R    estructuring in the Belgo-Brazilian
     brewing company InBev is to lead
to 109 jobs being axed at the InBev
                                             and 188 jobs, respectively.
                                             It is not known how much the InBev
                                             reorganisation should bring in. The
                                                                                              0.5%) and Groen! (8.7%, + 1.4%) also
                                                                                              make up ground in respect of the 2004
                                                                                              elections. The Vlaams Belang (22.5%, -
plant at Jupille, and 25 in the Leuven       group did announce that it would be              1.8) and the VLD (18.9, -1.1%) fall
headquarters, as well as a further fifty     using the savings to invest in its brand         back. However, the VLD is not dissat-
or so jobs in depots. Simultaneously a       names, new products and marketing.               isfied, for it appears slowly but surely
number of the group’s computer ser-          Including the contracting out of the IT          to be recovering from a severe drop in
vices are to be sourced out. The 50 IT       infrastructure to IBM and BT in mid              popularity resulting from internal
staff who would lose their jobs as a         2005, this is the fourth round of re-            party rows.
result of that will reportedly be able to    structuring carried out by InBev in less
secure employment with the new ser-          than a year in our country. InBev de-            Yves Leterme (CD&V), Minister-Presi-
vice provider. The Walloon Economic          fends the interventions by referring to          dent of the Flemish Government, re-
Affairs Minister Jean-Claude Marcourt        the difficult market conditions in               mains by far the most popular politi-
(PS) reproached InBev for announcing         Western Europe. The competition is               cian in Flanders with 51% of the votes.
the shedding of 200 jobs on the same         getting tougher and beer consumption             Remarkably he is followed by two
day that it announced profits of EUR 1       is under pressure. Last year the group’s         politicians who in fact no longer play
billion. He also lamented the fact that      volumes in Western European fell by              any role in national or Flemish poli-
there had been no consultation with          1.3%. However, these poorer results              tics: Steve Stevaert, provincial gover-
the regional and federal authorities. It     are more than compensated by strong              nor in Limburg and Jean-Luc Dehaene,
was the third reorganisation in the Bel-     growth in Latin America, where the               mayor of Vilvoorde. Freya Vanden
gian InBev plants in the space of a year.    group is active through the Brazilian            Bossche, SP.A Budget Minister in the
In October 2005 the brewer reorganised       AmBev, and in Eastern and Central Eu-            federal government, takes a dive from
its head office in Leuven and axed 60        rope.                                            third to eighth place since her blunder
jobs there. A little later, in November,     All in all, InBev sold almost 6% less            on fuel oil.
InBev closed the Hoegaarden brewery          beer last year, representing a volume of         
with the announcement of 232 job loss-       223.5 million hectolitres. Total sales
es. Talks on that latter reorganisation      rose by 7.2% to EUR 11.66 billion and
were still under way with the trade          net profit came out at EUR 1.02 bil-
unions. But owing to the swift succes-       lion.
sion of the restructuring rounds, and          
the poor communication, the InBev
management appears to have lost all                                                     ■                                                 ■
credit with the trade unions.
There’s therefore considerable militan-
cy among the employees (FF).

              25 FEBRUARY

‘To keep a lid on costs and to work
more efficiently InBev announced on
Thursday a reorganisation of the sup-                                                Scottish &
                                                                    InBev            Newcastle       Heineken            Carlsberg
porting services in Europe. The finan-
cial services of Belgium and a few             headquarters         belgium          great-britain   the netherlands denmark
other European countries are cen-              results (*)
tralised in the Czech Republic. The ex-        turnover             11,656           4,790           10,796              5,100
port services are being pooled in Hun-         operational profit   2,439            441             1,283               472
gary, where wage costs are a good deal         net profit           1,024            364             761                 149
lower. Three hundred and sixty jobs
                                               market position      nr1              nr6             nr4                 nr
are at risk due to the operation. In Bel-
gium 149 jobs are affected. In the                                  beck’s, brahma   kronenbourg      heineken           carlsberg
                                              main brands
Czech Republic and Hungary the new                                  stella artois    fosters, baltika amstel             tuborg, baltika
centres will reportedly be creating 107       (*) in Million euro                                                      source: TIJD GRAPHICS

                                                                          focus on FLANDERS • 25 February - 3 March 2006 • Number 9
                                             PUBLIC HEALTH AND CULTURE                                                           7

                                   PRACTISING DOCTORS
                                                                                          accreditation - and to be able to charge

  New criteria for recognition
                                                                                          the higher fees that go with that -,
                                                                                          1,250 patients per year is the requisite.
                                                                                          The register of GPs that the decree
             as GP                                                                        aims to arrive at is also important with
                                                                                          a view to a possible change in pay-
                                                                                          ment, under which doctors would no
                                                                                          longer only be paid per service ren-

 O     fficially Belgium has 17,500 GPs,
       but the sector says that only 8,000
 to 9,000 GPs are actually practising.
                                              is no longer eligible for reimbursement
                                              of medical cost (FF).
                                                                                          dered, but would also, in part, be able
                                                                                          to count on a lump-sum fee for their
                                                                                          practice. The conditions for recogni-
 The official figures include everyone                  GUY FRANSEN/GUY TEGENBOS •        tion explicitly state that a recognised
 who at some point has been recognised                  DE STANDA ARD • 28 FEBRUARY       GP has to take part in the duty ser-
 as a general practitioner, even if he or                                                 vices, and that in his/her absence, pa-
 she is no longer a practising doctor. The    After lengthy negotiations the ministe-     tients should be able to consult a fel-
 federal government therefore wants to        rial decree was published on 27 Febru-      low doctor who is aware of their case
 know exactly how many GPs there are          ary in the Belgian Official Journal. The    history. The Ministry of Public Health
 in Belgium so that it can pursue an effi-    Ministry of Public Health wants to use      expects GPs to establish and keep
 cient health policy. In order to be able     it to do away with GPs who still see        medical records in an appropriate man-
 to register and expurgate the number of      members of the family and friends, or       ner, precisely so as to be able to moni-
 GPs, from now on doctors will only           doctors in sports medicine and phar-        tor patients' clinical picture.
 receive recognition for a period of five     macologists who have completed the
 years. In that period they must have         training to qualify as a GP but are no
 treated 500 patients per year, either in     longer practising doctors. The GPs
 house calls of consultations. Anyone         themselves do not regard 500 patients
 losing his or her recognition as a doctor    as a high figure, since in order to gain                                           ■


                                                                                          Frankfurt’s fairs. During the autumn
    How people from Antwerp                                                               fair of 1585, 82 traders - mainly from
                                                                                          Antwerp - were given permission to
     turned Frankfurt into a                                                              determine the rate of exchange of the
                                                                                          various coins, a protection against

        financial centre                                                                  profiteers who attempted to make sub-
                                                                                          stantial gains by changing money. The
                                                                                          traders held their meetings in front of
                                                                                          the Römer, Frankfurt’s town hall. In

 T    he exhibition ‘Antwerp-Frankfurt.
      Migration and innovation around
 1600’ in the Hessenhuis in Antwerp
                                              to a first wave of migration. A little
                                              later, in 1585, Alexander Farnese gave
                                              the people of Antwerp a choice: con-
                                                                                          1605 this meeting was for the first
                                                                                          time referred to as ‘the stock ex-
 shows how Frankfurt enjoyed an eco-          vert to the Catholic faith, or leave the    The exhibition in the Hessenhuis tries
 nomic and cultural revival in the 16th       city within four years. This resulted in    to sketch a picture of this turbulent pe-
 century thanks to the migration of           the departure of a second wave of mi-       riod (Frankfurt, too, proved not to be so
 Protestants from Antwerp. They left          grants, chiefly traders and craftsmen.      tolerant towards Protestants), on the
 the Low Countries to escape repres-          Some of them went to Frankfurt,             basis of texts of edicts and proclama-
 sion. For example, it was Antwerp            which was quite tolerant towards            tions, prints, coins and paintings.
 traders who laid the foundations in          Protestantism at the time. The people       The other rooms mainly show what in-
 1585 for the Frankfurt stock exchange,       from Antwerp provided for an eco-           fluence the people of Antwerp had.
 the leading financial centre in Ger-         nomic and cultural revival, and made        They introduced new weaving tech-
 many. The exhibition in the Hessen-          Frankfurt an important financial cen-       niques and dye processes for fabrics,
 huis has already been on show in Frank-      tre’.                                       and turned Frankfurt into a centre for
 furt, and is one of 16 exhibitions           Around 1550 Frankfurt was already           precious stones and jewels. They also
 scheduled for 2006, aimed at highlight-      well known for its book fair and an-        had considerable influence on painting
 ing Antwerp’s ties with the rest of the      nual fair, but at that time things had      and the printing of books. So we are
 world (FF).                                  gradually started to go downhill for the    shown jewels and textiles, as well as
                                              city. Between 1550 and 1606 Frankfurt       graphic design and books. No religious
  SASKIA VEREENOOGHE • DE TIJD • 1 MA ART     hardly produced any coins itself. The       scenes are to be found among the
                                              local coins lost their value quickly and    paintings from this era, since Protes-
 The story behind the exhibition is an        the inhabitants almost only used for-       tantism did not allow this. There are
 interesting one. ‘In the second half of      eign coins. The Filipsdaalder, in partic-   still lifes, portraits and landscapes.
 the 16th century, Protestantism spread       ular, which was struck in the Low  
 in the Low Countries, but the Catholic       Countries, was extremely popular. In                     grafisch_museum
 King Philip II of Spain regarded that as     addition to the traditional trade in
 inadmissible. He sent the Duke of            goods, money transactions gradually
 Alba to the Low Countries’, recounts         began to gain in importance.
 project manager Sofie De Ruysser. ‘His       The exhibition tells us that new trad-
 strict policy against the Protestants led    ing techniques also had an impact on                                               ■

focus on FLANDERS • 25 February - 3 March 2006 • Number 9
 8                                                                   CULTURE

                                                       info: 0)9 233.68.78             • 13 March: Isabelle Faust violin and
               Diary                                   • 9 March: Hubert-Felix Thiefaine, AB,
                                                       Brussels; info:
                                                                                                      Alexander Melnikov piano with work by
                                                                                                      Ludwig von Beethoven, Flagey, Brussels;
                                                                                                      info: 02/641.10.10
                                                       • 9, 10 and 11 March: Impressing the           • 14 March: Concerto Köln and Andreas
     M U S I C , D A N C E , T H E AT R E              Czar, Royal Flemish Ballet, Flanders           Staier (piano) with JS Bach, WA Mozart
• 24 February to 21 March: Martin                      Operahouse, Ghent; info: www.vlaamse-          and Joseph Martin Kraus, Royal Conser-
Arnold (Vienna, 1959) has established                                               vatory, Brussels; info:
himself as one of the most brilliant of                • 10 to 25 March: l’Incoronazione di           02/507.82.00
today’s experimental filmmakers; Bozar,                Poppea by Monteverdi, conductor: René          • 15 March: Frank Peter Zimmermann
Brussels; 02/507.82.00                    Jacobs, director: David Mc Vicar, Opera,       (violin) and Christian Zacharias (piano)
• 8 March: Haydn Sinfonietta Wien with                 De Munt, Brussels; info:                       Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Royal Con-
Manfred Huss, Alexei Lubimov and              02/ 229 12 00                    servatory, Brussels; info:
Ronald Brautigam with Carl Philipp                     • 10 March: Ictus Ensemble conducted           02/507.82.00
Emanuel Bach Concerto for 2 keyboards,                 by Georges-Elie Octors with Katalin            • 15 March: Park Byon Chon and Ensem-
Joseph Haydn Scherzando, Wolfgang                      Karolyi (mezzo-soprano) with composi-          ble (Corea), Zuiderpershuis, Antwerp;
Amadeus Mozart Concerto for 3 key-                     tions by Peter Eötvös, Bruno Mantovani         info:
boards and orchestra, Johann Christian                 and Franck Bedrossian, Kaaitheater,            03/248.01.00
Bach Symphony for double orchestra;                    Brussels;                   • 15 March: John Mac Laughlin (guitar),
Concertgebouw, Bruges; info: www.con-                  • 10 March: Members of Marvelas, AB,           Shakti, Bozar, Brussels; info:, info: 070/33.33.02                      Brussels; info:    
• 7 March: Monnaie Orchestra and Choir                 02/548.24.24
conducted by Pier Giorgio Morandi,                     • 10 March: Belgian National Orchestra
Maxim Piers choir leader with Cristina                 conducted by Mikko Franck, Pinchas                                   EXPO
Gallardo-Domas soprano, Carlos Ventre                  Zukerman with Wolfgang Amadeus                 • Until 2008: Art at the Frontline 1914-
tenor - Stefano Antonucci bass with                    Mozart, Max Bruch and Pyotr                    1918, Royal Army and Military History
Giacomo Puccini, Capriccio Sinfonico,                  Tchaikovsky, Bozar, Brussels;                  Museum, Brussels;
Le villi, Concert, Bozar, Brussels;                    info: 02/507.82.00                info: 02 737 78 33 02/507.82.00                              • 10 March: Vicente Amigo, Concertge-          • Until 30 April: Pain, exhibition,
• 7 March: Death Cab for Cutie, AB,                    bouw, Bruges; info: www.concertge-             Museum Ghuislain, Ghent;
Brussels; info:                                          
02/548.24.24                                           • 11 March: Les Agréments, Choeur de           • Until 12 March: The Construction of
• 7 March: The Sedan Vault, AB, Brus-                  Chambre de Namur, Oratorio Messiah             the other, exhibition, photographic por-
sels; info:                          by GF Haendel, arranged by WA Mozart,          traits by Diane Arbus, Dirk Braeckman,
02/548.24.24                                           with Olga Pasichnyk, soprano, Concert-         Eadweard Muybridge, Gaudenzio Mar-
• 7 and 9 March: Musical theatre                       gebouw, Bruges;                                coni, Irving Penn, Marc Trivier, August
Transparant and Centro de Experimenta-                 info:                     Sander, Bozar, Brussels;
cion Teatro Colon, Jacob Lenz by Wolf-                 • 11 March: King’s Singers & Sarband,          info: 02/507.82.00
gang Rihm, De Singel, Antwerp; info:                   Sacred brigdes, Psalms, De Singel,             • Until the end of March: SMAK exhibi- 03/248.28.28                           Antwerp; info:                 tions: Franky DC, Henk Visch, Stefan
• 8 March: Tété Alhinho & co, Cabo                     03/248.28.28                                   Dheedene and Phil Collins, SMAK,
_Verdo, Zuiderpershuis, Antwerp; info:                 • 12 March: At the close of every day,         Ghent; info: 09 221 17 03 03/248.01.00                     AB, Brussels; info:          • Until 23 April: Eugeen Joors, In Flan-
• 8 March: The house of the hidden                     02/548.24.24                                   ders Fields Museum, Ypres 057/239.220
music pieces, Dick Vander Harst,                       • 12 March: Cali AB, Brussels;                 • Until 24 June: Kijkdozen en denkmod-
Amparo Cortes, Oxalys with Mozart and                  info: 02/548.24.24           ellen (Showcases and models of thought),
Camaron de la Isla; De Singel, Antwerp;                • 12 March: Orchestre Philharmonique           Jan Fabre, exhibition, Flemish
info: 03/248.28.28                     de Liège et de la Communauté Wallonie-         Parliament, Lokettenzaal, Brussels;
• 8 March: The King’s Consort conducted                Bruxelles conducted by John Axelrod,           info:
by Robert King with Claire Booth sopra-                Daniel Hope violin with Joseph Haydn           • Until 21 May: Theo Van Rysselberghe,
no and James Gilchrist, tenor: Henry                   and Leonard Bernstein, Bozar, Brussels;        exhibition, Bozar, Brussels;
Purcell, Benjamin Britten and Georg                    info: 02/507.82.00                info: 02/507.82.00
Friedrich Händel Bozar, Brussels;                      • 12, 14 and 16 March: Prova                   • Until 23 April: The Collection XIV, 02/507.82.00                              d’Orchestre, Giorgio Battistelli, compos-      exhibition, Muhka, Antwerp;
• 9 March: Fred Firth and Marc Ribot                   er in residence, six musical scenes for        info:
(guitar), De Singel, Antwerp;                          the end of the 20th century based on the       • Until 30 April: Noli me tangere: Maria
info: 03/248.28.28                     lyrical documentary by F Fellini.              Magdalena in multiple, Library of theolo-
• 8 March: Gewandhausorchester                         Koningin Elisabethzaal, Antwerp;               gy, Louvain,
Leipzig conducted by Riccardo Chailly                  info:                      • Until 28 May: Yearning for Beauty, The
and Nelson Freire (piano) with Johannes                • 13 March: Eva Mei (soprano) and              Vienna Werkstätte, exhibition Bozar,
Brahms and Alban Berg, Bozar, Brussels;                Alexander Schmalz (piano), recital with        Brussels, info:
info: 02/507.82.00                        Fauré, Debussy, Mahler, Strauss,               • Until 31 May: Antwerp-Frankfurt:
• 9 March: Night of the voice with                     Schumann, Schubert and Verdi, De               Migration and innovation around 1600,
Dominique Vellard, Aruna Sayeeram                      Munt, Brussels; info:            exhibition, Hessenhuis, Antwerp;
(India), Noureddine Tahiri with                        02/229 12 00                                   info: http: //
Gregorian Chant, songs from the Koran,                                                                grafisch_museum
the Veda etc, De Bijloke, Ghent;

  Editor in chief: Frank Vandecaveye                                                                  • Translation: Eurologos
• Advisory panel: Luc Demeester (Lannoo), Rik Van                                                     • Printing: Drukkerij Lannoo nv, Tielt
  Cauwelaert (director Knack), Wim Coessens (Man-                                                     • Responsible editor:
  aging director, De Morgen), Frans Crols (Director,                                                    Luc Demeester, Marke
  Trends), Jan Denaeyer (Information Officer,              Focus on Flanders provides a weekly        • 48 issues
  Flemish Community), Mark Deweerdt (Journalist,        overview of articles from the Flemish press   • Subscription rate printed edition + 2 e-mail
  De Tijd), Michael Stabenow (Correspondent,                                                            editions + password to search the archive
  Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung), Luc Standaert
                                                       and appears in English, French and German.       ( 233 euro
  (Journalist, Belang van Limburg), Jan Van Doren       This newsletter is published by Uitgeverij    • Either transfer the sum to account no.:
  (Deputy Director, VOKA-VEV), Bernard Bulcke             Lannoo nv, Kasteelstraat 97, 8700 Tielt       472-1010001-19 with the KBC in Roeselare
  (De Standaard)                                                                                        Or give us the number and expiry date of your cred-
• With thanks to: Concentra nv, De Vlijt nv, de          and can also be obtained by e-mail. The        it card (Visa/Eurocard):
  Vlaamse Uitgeversmaatschappij nv, De Persgroep        website contains         Telephone: 051/42.42.99
  nv, Uitgeversbedrijf Tijd nv and Roularta Media       an electronic archive of published articles     Fax: 051/40.11.52
  Group nv and their editorial teams for supplying                                                      E-mail:
  the articles.

                                                                               focus on FLANDERS • 25 February - 3 March 2006 • Number 9