"Integration schemes for newcomers to become more stringent"

The negotiators for a new Flemish government did not manage to go all the way to the finish last night, but a breakthrough is expected on Saturday morning. What do we know already? While nothing is official yet, the VRT's political pundit Johny Vansevenant can tell us more about the outlines of the new manifesto. 

The centre-right government will be led by the new Flemish PM Jan Jambon (N-VA). The Flemish nationalists, the biggest players in the coalition, will work together with the liberals (Open VLD) and Christian democrats (CD&V). It is obvious they don't agree on everything, and negotiations are taking longer than expected. 

While many things have been decided, "the hardest part is yet to come: the budget. They will have to make choices, many policy choices are still between brackets", explains Johny Vansevenant. 

Social benefits? Yes, but do your share first

However, some things are very concrete already. Integration will be an important chapter in the policy agreement, since the N-VA fears fierce opposition from far-right Vlaams Belang on their right side. "Integration courses will no longer be for free, and those who don't succeed will get a fine, that seems almost certain", says Vansevenant.

"At the same time, it will become more difficult for newcomers to enjoy social benefits: we are talking about social housing, child benefits and the health insurance. The general motto will be: if you want to become a member of the club, you will have to make your contribution first."

How will integration be approached? "We hear that are discussions about this. CD&V and Open VLD demand that the text clearly mentions that migration also has a surplus."

Conditions to enjoy social benefits will become more stringent

Other chapters of the manifesto focus on raising the employment rate to 80 percent. This could be done via a tax reduction on the lowest wages, to stimulate jobless people to get a job. The long waiting lists in the care sector are another issue: reducing them will also cost money, so it is unclear how far negotiators will go.

The coalition government will probably only have a balanced budget by 2024, at the end of the next term. 

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