Finance Minister requests study into cost of migration

The Federal Finance Minister Johan Van Overtveldt (Nationalist) has asked the National Bank of Belgium to carry out a study into how much migration costs Belgian society. Speaking on VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De Ochtend’, Mr Van Overtveldt said “I think that there is a great need to bring some objectivity into the debate on this issue”.

There are already studies into the cost of migration including once that was carried out with the support of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Previously, the Ghent University Professor of International Economy Ilse Ruyssen has said that the net finance balance for countries receiving migrants is positive.

However, Mr Van Overtveldt says that "These were mainly international studies. Belgium has a very specific state structure. So it is useful that will ask a respected institution such as the National Bank to study the various aspects in detail.”

The various aspects include migration by those claiming asylum, reunification with family already here and migration for work.

"Let’s try and bring some objectivity into issues about which there is constant discussion. In so doing we will make an emotional debate more objective not just among the general public but also among law-makers".  

“Study already exists”

The Flemish Christian democrat Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters is critical of Mr Van Overtveldt’s plans. Mr Peeters told VRT News that “The National Bank already made calculations in 2016”.   

"The High Employment Council is also carrying out such as study. Why request an additional study when studies have already been made?”

A study carried out by the National Bank in 2016 into the effect of the 2015 migration crisis showed that the “cumulative effect on GDP” was 0.17%.