It's Christmas for the Belgian armed forces

Many thought it wasn't on the cards this morning, but by midafternoon Prime Minister Michel and his cabinet colleagues had reached agreement on a whole series of loose ends that needed to be sorted out before the Christmas holidays. 9.2 billion is being spent on the armed forces.

The federal government is releasing extra cash for the Belgian armed forces. Belgium will buy 34 new hunter jets to replace antiquated F-16s. Which type of aircraft will be chosen still has to be decided. It's not only the air force that can count on government largesse this Christmas: the navy is getting two new frigates and six minehunters. In all there's 9.2 billion euros in fresh cash for the Belgian armed forces.

It's Christmas for the police too: a new security corps is being created. With 1,600 officers it will have the task of carrying out special guard duties. 2,500 police officers will be freed up for work out on the beat with non-police officers doing administrative jobs for the police service.

Other decisions include:

The government has decided that all businesses in the hospitality industry with a turnover from food of over 25,000 euros a year will have to have a so called "white cash register" that records all transactions.

The long term ill will not face additional sanctions if they can't return to the labour market immediately.