This National Reform Programme (NRP) covers the measures the federal Government and the Regions and Communities have taken over the past 12 months to attain the targets included in the National Reform Programme of April 2011. In this programme, the governments express their conviction that structural reforms are essential to attain the targets and that the proposed and actualized budgetary objectives should be met.
The ambitious targets from the 2011 NRP are confirmed in the 2012 NRP, despite the difficult economic climate. The most recent observations of most indicators show that the trends are moving in the right direction and that several of them even excel the ambitious targets. That is, for instance, the case for the indicators with regard to renewable energy and tertiary education. On the other hand, it should be said that the trend reflected by some indicators, in the area of social inclusion for example, are rather disappointing. Certainly, this is connected to the difficult economic situation. Moreover, fiscal consolidation is essential to maintain our wealth and social system.
Furthermore, the federal Government also agreed on the necessity to outline an economic stimulus plan, which was completed in July 2012. That plan constitutes a global strategy for boosting economic activity and reinforcing competitiveness in order to stimulate economic growth and sustainable employment and to support purchasing power. The federal Government aims to develop this strategy further in collaboration with the social partners, the Regions and the Communities.
In doing so, the federal Government is convinced it is responding to the country-specific recommendations Belgium received during the Council of July 2012.
This NRP follows a balanced approach to the treatment of the EU2020-targets and the answers to the country-specific recommendations. It also deals with Belgium's commitments in response to the Euro plus pact and the Council-endorsed priorities of the European Commission, as described in the Annual Growth Survey of November 2012. The Belgian governments are also convicted that the European Semester should handle all dimensions of sustainable development on an equal basis (economic, social and environmental dimension). As the programme indicates, fulfilling the European commitments requires a strong involvement of the different entities in the European procedures and projects from the EU2020 Strategy’s flagship initiatives.
As part of its in-depth review, the European Commission calls on Belgium to undertake an ambitious policy to remedy the economic imbalances noted. The Belgian governments are convinced that this programme is consistent with this essential requirement.
This programme has been established thanks to close collaboration between the federal Government and the governments of the Regions and the Communities. The regional programmes are annexed to this programme and describe the specific measures in more detail. The governments are pleased that the European Union acknowledges that, of all EU countries, the Belgian Regions are most closely involved in drafting the national NRP. On several occasions, the social partners and civil society were also involved in drafting the programme and monitoring its progress.
Negotiations on the announced sixth state reform are advancing and should lead to an adjustment of the roles of the different entities this year. This programme also mentions several collaboration-based initiatives between the federal and regional governments, in keeping with the competences of each level of governance with a view to increasing the level of efficiency within the country.
The National Reform Programme was also discussed in the federal parliament.