What can we expect from the new Flemish government?

The Flemish nationalists, Christian democrats and liberals have written a 300-page government accord for the next five years.  VRT’s political editor Ivan De Vadder has been following coalition talks closely and has a good idea what is in the document.

It’s clear that with the strong showing of the far right Vlaams Belang in the general election integration policy will form one of the core planks of the new administration’s work.  Integration policy will become stricter, access to Flemish social security provisions will be restricted and newcomers will have to contribute first before they can benefit. Getting social housing will be more difficult as will be provisions for seniors in need of extra care.  Asylum seekers won't get child allowance. In addition newcomers will also have to make a financial contribution to their own integration. Newcomers will have to pay for their own integration course. Fail the integration test at the end of the course and you will need to re-sit and pay for the pleasure!

Greater efforts will be made to get more people in work.  Many levers still form part of federal policy but a Flemish job bonus is expected. That should get more low earners and the poorly skilled into work by cutting their taxes and ensuring they see more cash in their pay packet. The long-term unemployed will have to do a community service. At present 74.1% of Flemings between 20 and 64 are at work.  The goal is to increase this to 80%.

Efforts to post a balanced Flemish budget have been delayed until 2021. A 600 million shortfall is expected next year.  The daily De Tijd reports that after a balance in 2021 a defict will be allowed in following years with a balanced budget again in 2024. 

The "woonbonus", tax relief on a mortgage is set to disappear, but in future you will be able to take the taxes you pay on purchasing a property with you for a second purchase.  Taxes on purchase of a modest or energy efficient property will be reduced too.

Waiting lists in the care sector will be addressed and inheritance tax will be cut as will taxes on buying a property.  Education too will benefit from investment. In education children doing poorly at school will receive greater guidance.

Ivan De Vadder: “The government accord will contain points that will satisfy individual parties.  The liberals wanted to ditch compulsory voting in elections and get direct elections for mayors". 

It is understood compulsory voting wil no longer apply in local elections.

The Christian democrats oppose mergers of municipalities and any talk of abolition of the provinces, while the Flemish nationalists sought a “Flemish canon”, a list of important events and "anchorage points" in Flemish history and culture that characterise Flanders as a European nation.  They also want  mayors to be able to ditch their tricolour ribbon.