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Former Belgian PM Dehaene dies

Former Belgian prime minister Jean-Luc Dehaene, who helped set up the European Union treaty, has died aged 73.

He also led his nation during the 1990s when it granted increasing autonomy to its Dutch and French-speaking regions.

Current prime minister Elio Di Rupo said that Belgium had lost "an exceptional statesman", adding: "Jean-Luc was a special companion."

Mr Dehaene, a Dutch-speaking Christian Democrat, had been diagnosed with cancer earlier this year but died following a fall in France, media reports said.

He had been key in brokering an EU constitution but after referendums in two member states rejected it, many parts of the plan were taken up by the Treaty of Lisbon that currently sets policy for the EU.

After two terms as prime minister, he became a member of the European Parliament and, combining his love of football with his knowledge of finances, he also took the lead in Uefa's campaign to control excessive spending by Europe's top clubs.


From Belfast Telegraph