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Yearbook 2001

2001 BelgiumBelgium. At the end of the year, Belgium took over the EU Presidency Club from Sweden. According to Countryaah, Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt indicated a wide range of areas to be prioritized. But already a little over a week in July came a setback, when a Belgian proposal on EU tax on income was almost laughed out at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels.

During the fall, the presidency came in the cloud after the terrorist attack in the United States on September 11, which left the mark on most international relations. In Belgium, as in several other countries, suspected Islamists were arrested.

2001 Belgium

At the summit in Brussels suburb Laeken in December, Verhofstadt received a declaration that he himself has drawn up extensively, on the future of the EU. On several other issues prioritized by Belgium, however, no results were achieved. This included attempts to create common patent rules and the question of where a number of new EU authorities would be placed. Foreign Minister Louis Michel caused some resentment when he claimed during the summit that the EU countries agreed to send a joint force to Afghanistan. No such crisis management force existed within the Union.

In March, the worst train accident in Belgium occurred since 1974 when a freight train and a passenger train crashed a few miles outside Brussels. Eight people were killed and dozens were injured.

The Minister of the Interior of the regional government in Flanders, Johan Sauwens, resigned in May after it was revealed that he had attended a meeting with Belgian former SS officers.

In June, the House of Representatives adopted a constitutional change that strengthened the position of the regions. They got increased decision-making power regarding taxation and public spending, as well as greater influence over agriculture, foreign aid and trade.

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