National Reform Programme - Belgium 2015

This National Reform Programme contains the structural measures taken over the past 12 months by the federal government and the governments of the Regions and Communities. The purpose of these measures is twofold:

  1. to meet the country-specific recommendations made by the European Council to Belgium in 2014, in particular an in-depth reform of the tax system and of the labour market, the need to meet the costs of ageing, an improved competitiveness and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The recommendation concerning the budget and the national debt is dealt with in the Stability Programme 2015.
  2. to meet the targets mentioned in the Europe 2020 strategy as concerns labour, R&D and innovation, education and training, energy and climate and guaranteeing social inclusion.

The governments in place have confirmed their commitment to meet the Europe 2020 targets. In this respect, the current progress indicators globally paint an encouraging picture, even if the challenging economic conditions can still be felt. The total employment rate remains rather constant in 2014, but the employment rate of women and of older people (55-64 years) seems to rise. The employment rate gap between non-EU citizens and Belgians shrinks, as well as the percentage of young people neither in employment nor in education or training. The proportion of 30-34 year-olds with a higher education degree increases, whereas the percentage of early school leavers still goes down. As regards R&D intensity, greenhouse gas emissions, share of renewables and primary energy consumption, Belgium is also more or less on the right track to meet the targets. On the other hand, the objective of reducing the risk of poverty and social exclusion is much more difficult to achieve. For the time being, there is no positive development in this respect.

The measures which have been taken by the different governments to maintain the current trend or adjust it if necessary and which are mentioned in this National Reform Programme include among others: the tax shift from labour to other tax bases; the reform of the pension system; the index jump; the activation and inclusion in the labour market of young people, of older workers and of people who have not worked for a long period of time and a better match between people's skills and the demand on the labour market; the SMEs plan and the start-up plan, the simplification and reorganization of subsidies for research, development and innovation; the kilometre charge for heavy vehicles and the reform of the green certificates; the linking of the social benefits to the general standard of living and the regional plans against poverty.