Bourgeois has message for refugees in September Statement

The Flemish PM Geert Bourgeois (N-VA) has delivered his so-called September Statement in the Flemish parliament, the policy statement that marks the start of the parliamentary year in Flanders. In his State of the Union, Bourgeois outlined the policies that Flanders will adopt in the coming year. Bourgeois talked about refugees ("they have rights but also duties") and the budget. Flanders will have a budget deficit of 172 million, while the Bourgeois administration will be looking for a balance between spending cuts and investments.

Speaking about the influx of refugees in various European countries, including Belgium, Bourgeois said that Flanders welcomes the refugees and aims to give them a good future, but that this also involves duties for the people coming in.

"We can and we will help recognised asylum seekers with good quality assistance. However, I also care about social cohesion, the building stone of our society. Our policy will be a humane one, but will also involve duties. Newcomers should play an active role in society, and should find a job as soon as possible. It's of crucial importance for our society that newcomers can integrate successfully. Their knowledge of Dutch is crucial as well as accepting of our norms and values."

Spending cuts, but also investments in different sectors

Flanders will also have a small budget deficit of just over 170 million euros. "We have succeeded in limiting the deficit in 2016, but we aim for a balanced budget in 2017." Geert Bourgeois called the present spending cuts in different public sectors "well-balanced and moderate."

By 2019, the Flemish government will invest 2.5 billion euros extra compared to when the government took office in July 2014. Investments worth 500 million each will be made in

  • the care and social welfare sector
  • research and development
  • infrastructure works
  • local municipalities
  • to reduce the tax burden for citizens and private companies

 

After 15 months in office, Bourgeois concluded that the Flemish government is on the right track. "We are cutting taxes, making extra investments in people and in our economy and we will have a balanced budget", Bourgeois concluded.