Von der Leyen inaugurates Belgian EU presidency in Brussels

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen paid a working visit to the Belgian presidency of the EU on Friday afternoon. It is traditional for the Commission to visit the member state that will hold the presidency for the following six months.

Due to a tribute to the recently deceased Jacques Delors in Paris, the programme was shortened from a full day to half a day. Belgium was represented by prime minister Alexander De Croo, Foreign and European Affairs minister Hadja Lahbib and members of the federal and regional governments involved in the presidency.

To celebrate what is the 13th Belgian presidency since the founding of the European Economic Community in 1958, De Croo and von der Leyen symbolically broke a giant chocolate bar at the top of the Mont des Arts in Brussels. There, the official logo of the Belgian presidency was placed.

Crucial presidency

During the next six months, Belgium's main task will be to mediate between other member states and complete as much legislation as possible. This is crucial with the EU elections coming up in June. As many dossiers as possible need to be finished by April, when the European Parliament will be dissolved. Some 150 legal texts are currently being worked on.

One important dossier will be the mid-term review of the European budget for 2021-2027. The 27 member states failed to reach an agreement in December, and a second summit on the issue is planned for 1 February. Another will be finishing the legislation of the Migration Pact agreed on in December.

Afterwards, Belgium will have time to set the European agenda for the following years. The country has said it will focus on increasing competitiveness of European companies, protecting citizens by defending democracy and pursuing a green transition. The Union's potential enlargement with new member states will also be discussed.

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo and European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen. © BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE

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