"A job for each Belgian by 2025"

The federal Employment Minister Kris Peeters wants every Belgian to have employment by 2025. Speaking in De Tijd, Peeters said that Belgium should have the same ambition as Germany. "We have done excellent work with this government so far, but we should put our ambitions even higher."

Kris Peeters is voicing a similar ambition as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is entering her election campaign with the promise to land every German a job by the year 2025, the so-called Vollbeschäftigung.

"Belgium should have the guts to pronounce a similar ambition", Kris Peeters estimates. "The federal government made job creation priority number one. With 216,000 extra jobs in five years' time, we did a good job, but we should lift the ambition to a higher level and aim for full employment."

The challenge is a big one: Belgian unemployment levels were at 7.6 percent in the first three months of the year. The Planning Office expects this to drop to 6.6 by 2018. In order to reach the highest employment level as Mr Peeters suggests, this should drop to 3 percent. Zero is impossible, since newcomers on the labour market always need some time to land a job, while there will also be people who have just been made redundant.

Belgium is not Germany

Can Belgium emulate Germany? How realistic Kris Peeters' promise compared to what Angela Merkel is promising? At present, the umemployment rate in Germany is only at 4.1 percent, compared to 7.6 for Belgium. Germany is a lot ahead, but at the same time, it has a lot of so-called "mini-jobs", smaller jobs which don't yield a lot, but which keep people out of the jobless statistics anyway.

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