National Reform Programme 2019

In this National Reform Programme (NRP), the various governments report on the structural reforms that have taken place since the country-specific recommendations of 2018 and indicate which measures may be expected in the near future. The measures are complementary to the budgetary measures developed in the Stability Programme. According to the governments, the reforms meet the findings contained in the Country Report, the country-specific recommendations for 2018, the priorities of the An-nual Growth Survey, the path towards achieving the Europe 2020 goals, and contribute to the implementation of the European Pillar for Social Rights. The 2018-2019 vanguards are employment, invest-ments and mobility.

On 24 July 2018, the federal government presented the Jobs deal, a package of 28 measures for employment. It focuses on both the supply and demand side of the labour market, but there are also social and fiscal measures. Addressing the skills shortage in certain professions through training and retraining, and the activation and reactivation of the unemployed, young people and older people in particular, are essential elements thereof. Most of the measures have already been taken. The Regions are closely involved in the implementation of the package.

The labour market - and more generally long-term economic growth - is also served by strategic investments. In interaction with the Regions, progress has been made on the National Pact for Strategic Investments (NPSI) of 2018. On 11 September 2018, the Strategic Committee set up in 2017 published a report with 82 recommendations, focusing on six cross-cutting topics as well as transversal themes. By 2030, the private and public sectors together will have mobilised around 150 billion euros for the investment needs of both sectors. An important area is mobility, with a lot of attention going to railways, roads and waterways, but also to bicycle routes and charging points for electrical vehicles and LNG. Another important area is energy, where work is being done on renewable electricity, geothermal energy, research into the processing of nuclear waste, and the energy efficiency of (public) buildings. In addition, a great deal of attention is being paid to investments in digitisation and the infrastructure for education. With the EFSI guarantee, the EIB contributes to the financing of 4 GW capacity offshore wind farms, but also to other projects such as the Liège tram.

In addition to infrastructure investments, the mobility issue is also addressed by investments in clean technology and the adjustment of modal choice. The federal government launched the mobility budget and the 'cash for cars' scheme as alternatives to the use of company cars. The Regions are working on the modal shift, comodality, making buses more sustainable, phasing out fossil fuels, a kilometre-based charge for passenger cars and better bundling of freight.

In the process of structural reforms, there is an obvious engagement of the Regions, but also of the Communities and the social partners. The reform plans of the Communities and Regions are attached in full to this report as Annexes 1 to 5. They provide a detailed explanation of their measures for the implementation of the country-specific recommendations and investment challenges. Those programmes also identify regional progress in the Europe 2020 targets and the measures that support the achievement of those goals. The opinion of the social partners is also attached to this report.

In the framework of the European Semester, an intensive dialogue is taking place – both in the fact-finding mission and in bilateral meetings – between the departments of the European Commission and the respective levels of government in Belgium. Each of those levels (Federal, Communities, Regions) brings up its measures in the framework of the European Semester.