Belgium takes over EU presidency despite inner political turmoil

Belgium is taking on the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union, despite the country's own deep domestic political crisis. Currently, the country only has a caretaker government in place.

On June 13, the country held an early parliamentary election following the fall of the Belgian government in April. The new ministerial team is expected to take over as soon as a coalition is formed, which is likely to happen halfway through the country’s EU presidency.

Sabine Verhest, a political analyst from La Libre Belgique newspaper, admits that the potential change of ministers is a problem for the country in taking on the EU presidency, but in general Belgium can manage.

“All the major political parties have been involved in the preparation of the program, which means this program will remain unchanged even if you have new ministers,” says Verhest.

As for what the change of the EU president means for EU-Russia relations, Verhest says that Belgium will have very little to do with EU international policies, with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs playing the key role.

“Catherine Ashton will have the lead and not the Belgian presidency,” says Sabine Verhest.