"Highest labour costs in the EU"

Belgian labour costs were the highest in the entire European Union last year. Figures from the EU statistics agency Eurostat show that in the continent of Europe only Norway had higher wage costs.

The average EU labour cost per hour stood at 23.1 euros in 2011. Bulgaria has the lowest labour cost, only 3.5 euros an hour.

The labour cost includes wage costs but also all other levies including employers’ social contributions.

The average labour cost for an hour in Belgium stands at 39.3 euros. Belgium is more expensive than Nordic countries including Sweden (39.1 euros) and Denmark (38.6 euros).

Belgian labour costs are significantly higher than in neighbouring countries, our most important trading partners: Luxembourg (33.7 euros), France (34.2 euros), the Netherlands (31.1 euros) and Germany 30.1 euros.

Belgium was also the most expensive in 2010 with the average hour of labour costing 38.2 euros.

The new figures can but fuel the debate on the labour cost issue in Belgium. Belgium's automatic link that keeps public sector wages in line with inflation, the index, is not universally popular.