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PM says: "The next 5 to 10 winters will be difficult”, but is he right?

In an interview on Monday, the Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) predicted difficult times to come for the economy due to the high cost of energy. Mr De Croo said that next 5 to 10 winters are going to be tough. But is the Prime Minister right?

On Monday, the Federal Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) was on “work experience’ at the logistics company ICO Terminals in the West Flemish port of Zeebrugge. He had been invited by the Flemish employers’ federation Voka. Previously the head of Voka Hans Maertens had spoken of “dark clouds above the Flemish economy" with many companies in our region having financial difficulties that have been caused by spiraling energy costs.

Mr De Croo pick up on what Mr Maertens had said. The Federal PM told journalists that "The coming 5 to 10 years will be difficult. Certain sectors are finding it very difficult to cope with high energy prices. We are following this closely, but we need to show transparency. The coming months will be difficult, the coming winters will be difficult. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. It it turns out beter than we feared, it will have been a good thing that we at least were prepared”.  

Mr De Croo added that "As a country we can deal with this. We should support each other in difficult times and with the necessary self-confidence and perseverance we can do it”. 

Are we really in for a decade of “tough winters”?

Speaking in response to Mr De Croo’s interview the Leuven Unviversity (KUL) professor of international economics Filip Abraham told VRT News that “It is indeed the case that we are heading towards an economic recession that will lead to structural changes in our economy. These will have come about as a result of the climate and energy transition and the changed geopolitical situation”.

"No one can predict precisely how long this transition will take, but it is clear that it is a challenge that will take many years to complete. I think that this is the point Prime Minister De Croo wanted to make. I see it above all as a call to realise that the coming years won’t be easy, but if the required effort are made there is a solution”.

The Belgian Electricity and Gas Companies’ Federation (Febeg) reacts in a similar vein. Febeg’s general manager Marc Van den Bosch told VRT News that supply costs will remain high during the coming years

Mr Van den Bosch add that energy supply companies work with small profit margins and that are encountering difficulties too. "The question is whether their customers will continue to be able to pay them". 

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