National Reform Programme - Belgium 2014

This National Reform Programme (NRP) covers the measures taken over the past 12 months by the federal government and the governments of the Regions and Communities to reach the targets set in the National Reform Programme of April 2011. In this programme, the governments express their conviction that structural reforms are essential to reaching the targets and that the proposed and updated budgetary objectives should be met.

The ambitious targets set in the 2011 NRP are confirmed, despite challenging economic conditions. According to most of the latest observations, the trends are moving in the right direction and several of them are even outperforming the very ambitious targets. This is the case, for instance, for indicators for R&D expenditure, greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and higher education. On the other hand, it should be said that the trends reflected by other indicators, for example in the area of poverty and social inclusion, are rather disappointing, and that is certainly due to the challenging economic conditions. Moreover, fiscal consolidationis essential to maintaining our wealth and our social security system.

Furthermore, the federal and regional governments agreed on a Pact for competitiveness, employment and recovery at the end of November 2013. It contains several measures to increase the competitiveness of businesses and to boost households' purchasing power. The federal government will thus take measures to reduce labour costs, increase the employment bonus for low wages, further develop continuing vocational training and cut VAT on electricity. Moreover, the link to well-being of social security payments has been confirmed. The authorities have also agreed to develop free zones.