Mr De Croo told the audience made up of diplomats, politicians, journalists and above all business people that "Belgium, the force awakens",
The Power Breakfast forms the centre piece of Belgium’s participation in the annual gathering of the World economy’s great and good. The breakfast that was attended by around 100 people was (as in previous years) hosted by Belgium’s Head of State King Filip I and his wife Queen Mathilde. As the Federal Prime Minister Charles Michel (Francophone liberal) had opted to remain in Belgium for personal reasons (Mr Michel’s partner is due to give birth to their child), it was the Federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development aid and the digital agenda Alexander De Croo that delivered the speech on behalf of the Federal Government.
Mr De Croo told his audience that "It’s January and the best New Year’s resolution you can take is to come and invest in Belgium.”
"Over the past 14 months the Belgian Government has being working hard to reform our economy, our taxation system and our labour market. Wage costs have diminished thanks to a reduction in employers’ social security contributions from 33% to 25%. Starting up a new business costs less, entrepreneurship is stimulated and we have significantly reduced income tax.”
Mr De Croo quoted the National Bank’s predictions when he added that “Thanks to these reforms solid economic growth is expected in Belgium with the creation of 114,000 new jobs over the next three years”
"I invite you to look and the reforms in detail so that you can see how they would be beneficial to you company. Together with our regions: Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels we have to the tools to offer you an ideal basis to for the creation or reinforcement of you presence in the heart of Europe”, Mr De Croo said
In a reference to the new Star Wars film Mr De Croo said “I would say: Belgium, the force awakens”.
The Federal Deputy Prime Minister was also keen to make it clear to his audience that Belgium had reacted adequately to the terrorist threat.
"Security is and remains an absolute priority and we have dedicated the manpower and the financial means necessary to ensure that it remains guaranteed.
Flemish PM puts R&D in the spotlight
In his speech, the Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois (nationalist, photo), who was speaking on behalf of the all three regions, spoke of recent investments in research and development.
"Of the 2.7 billion euro that were invested in Flanders last year, more than 20% went to research and development. I don’t know the figures for the other regions by heart, but I am confident that it was no different there”, Mr Bourgeois said.
There is no representative from either the Walloon Government or the Government of the Brussel-Capital present in Davos.
“Not a failed state”
The Head of the Belgian Employers’ Federation VBO Pieter Timmermans (photo) told the press agency Belga that he was satisfied with what he had heard from Mr Bourgeois and Mr De Croo.
He felt that the two politician had “given an indirect answer” to the image issue our country has suffered in recent weeks.
Belgium is not a failed state. We have suffered a knock to our reputation and this needs to be explained and put into context. I am here to help and hope that I can do my bit”, Mr Timmermans said.