European Commission spares Belgium, but has list of strong recommendations

The European Commission has not started a procedure against Belgium because the debt rate is declining too slowly. However, extra efforts are being asked. This can be read in the long-awaited debt report about Belgium that the Commission has released. Belgium has to make cuts worth at least 1.2 billion this year and has to continue the tax shift, to reduce taxes on labour.

Belgium was risking to become the first member state facing a procedure for not reducing the debt burden fast enough. The EU wants member states to move towards 60 percent of the GDP.

Belgium had been targeted by the European Commission between 2010 and 2014, because the budget deficit had exceeded three percent.

In general, the procedure means that Europe is monitoring the situation from close by, following in detail how a country reduces its debt. In practice, this means the national government has less room for manoeuvre.

"Save another 1.2 billion this year"

While the Commission may refrain from an official procedure, this does not mean that no recommendations are being made.

  • The Belgian government needs to make more spending cuts worth 1.2 billion this year
  • The tax shift should be continued
  • The system of company cars and fuel cards is under fire
  • The EU also complains that immigrants are being discriminated in education and on the labour market

The Commission also puts into doubt the estimated yield of some of the measures the government is planning, more specifically those concerning social fraud, tax regularisation, and plans to get the long-term back to work.