Elections 2024: N-VA unveils plan to fix Belgium's 'dramatic' budget deficit

Flemish nationalist party N-VA has revealed how it plans to bring Belgium's budget back into line with European rules by 2029. The party plans to save 11.8 billion euros by cutting social security and a further 3.7 billion by cutting government spending.

Belgium's budget deficit of 27 billion euros is projected to rise to 45 billion, or 6.4 per cent of GDP, by 2029 if policies remain unchanged. This situation is "unsustainable" and "dramatic", N-VA leader Bart De Wever and MP Sander Loones said on Thursday.

To get back in line with European budget rules, which require a deficit of no more than 3 per cent of GDP, the party has outlined a budget plan. To start with, it proposes to set up a federal mini-cabinet immediately after the elections to work on the necessary socio-economic reforms. This process would take "about two years" while the parties negotiate confederalism.

Social security cuts

The N-VA plans the biggest cuts in social security: among other things, the party wants to limit unemployment over time, skip the indexation of unemployment benefits and the living wage, get the long-term sick back to work and limit access to the living wage. In this way it aims to save 11.8 billion euros by 2029. The party does not want to cut healthcare, but adds that the growth path should be "realistic".

In addition, it wants to make savings of 3.7 billion euros in the government itself. Reducing the number of MPs and abolishing the Senate are well-known ambitions, but it also wants to cut a number of subsidies, including transferring development cooperation to the regions. The party also expects each region to achieve a balanced budget by 2029.

Investing in defence

Despite these cuts, the party also wants to invest in security, digitalisation and tackling climate change. It not only wants to structurally increase the budgets for security, police and defence, up to an extra 500 million euros by 2029, but also proposes, for example, to set up a fund specifically for defence.

This would be financed by the sale of "non-strategic participations", such as Belgium's stake in BNP Paribas, Ethias or the National Lottery. This would eventually allow Belgium to meet its commitment to NATO to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence each year.



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