National Reform Programme 2019
This National Reform Programme sets out the structural measures taken by the Belgian governments over the last twelve months. Their purpose is twofold:
- respond to the country-specific recommendations that Belgium received from the European Council in July 2018, except for the recommendation relating to the budget and the public debt, which is dealt with in the Stability Programme of 2019. Specifically, the aim is to (1) continue fiscal consolidation and accelerate the reduction of the general government debt ratio, strengthen the budgetary coordination among all government levels, pursue the pension reforms, contain the increase in long-term care expenditure, and create room for public investment, (2) increase employment, in particular by ensuring that the most disadvantaged groups have equal opportunities as other people to participate in education and the labour market, and advance graduation in STEM disciplines, and (3) promote entrepreneurship and competition by administrative simplification, and respond tot the increasing mobility challenges;
- meet the objectives of the Europe 2020 Strategy in the fields of work, R&D and innovation, education and training, energy and climate, and social inclusion.
The most recent figures (2017/2018) on the Europe 2020 progress indicators paint a fairly encouraging picture. Since the economic crisis, the employment rate in the 20-64 age group has remained below the established path towards its objective, but it is rising yet. The employment rate of women and the percentage of young people neither in employment nor in education or training are moving in the desired direction. The employment rate of older workers reached the 50% objective in 2018.By contrast, the employment rate gap between non-EU citizens and Belgians has hardly changed in the past few years. The share of people in their early 30s with a higher education degree follows the path towards its objective, the latter being more ambitious than that for the EU as a whole. The percentage of early school leavers reached its 2020 objective by 2016. This objective is more ambitious than that for the EU average as well. As regards greenhouse gas emissions, Belgium is on track to meet its target. The same basically holds for the share of renewables and R&D intensity, though we might lag slightly behind. Since 2012, there has been no substantial progess towards the objectives of reducing primary energy consumption and the risk of poverty and social exclusion.
The Belgian governments confirmed their commitment to meeting the Europe 2020 targets. The 2018-2019 priorities are employment, investments and mobility. The Jobs deal is a package of 28 measures to promote employment. It is essentially aimed at addressing the skills shortage in certain professions and the (re)activation of the unemployed, young people and older people in particular. In interaction with the Regions, progress has been made on the 2018 National Pact for Strategic Investments (NPSI). By 2030, around 150 billion euros should be spent on mobility, energy, digitisation en education. The mobility issue is also addressed by investments in clean technology and modal choice adjustment. Besides the threepriorities, progress has also been made in the tax shift, poverty-reduction programmes, equal opportunities in education, promoting and financing innovation, promoting entrepreneurship, the circular economy, reforming education, and enhancing competition in e.g. retail trade and professional services.