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The European Commission has adopted a positive assessment of Belgium’s recovery and resilience plan. This is an important step towards the EU disbursing € 5.9 billion in grants under the Recovery and Resilience Mechanism (FRR). This funding will support the implementation of the crucial investment and reform measures described in Belgium’s recovery and resilience plan. He will play a key role in enabling Belgium to emerge stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. The RRF – at the heart of NextGenerationEU – will provide up to € 672.5 billion (at current prices) to support investment and reform across the EU. The Belgian plan is part of an unprecedented coordinated EU response to the COVID-19 crisis, to address common European challenges by embracing green and digital transitions, to strengthen economic and social resilience and market cohesion unique.
The Commission assessed Belgium’s plan on the basis of the criteria set out in the RRF regulation. The Commission’s analysis notably examined whether the investments and reforms provided for in the Belgian plan support the green and digital transitions; contribute effectively to tackling the challenges identified in the European Semester; and strengthen its potential for growth, job creation and economic and social resilience. Securing Belgium’s green and digital transitions The Commission’s assessment notes that the Belgian plan devotes 50% of its total allocation to measures that support climate objectives. This includes investments in measures to support the renovation of public and private buildings across the country to increase their energy efficiency, the deployment of alternative energy technologies such as low-carbon hydrogen production, and reforms and investments. to accelerate the transition to green mobility. It also foresees significant investments to restore biodiversity, tackle the growing problem of droughts and promote the efficient use of resources, recycling and the circular economy.
The Commission notes that the Belgian plan devotes 27% of its total allocation to support measures for the digital transition. This includes measures to digitize the public administration and the justice system, the provision of digital skills training, the strengthening of Belgium’s cybersecurity capacity and the development of the legal framework for the deployment of 5G.
Strengthen the economic and social resilience of Belgium
The Commission considers that Belgium’s plan includes a broad set of reforms and investments which are mutually reinforcing and which contribute to effectively tackling all or a significant subset of the economic and social challenges described in the country-specific recommendations addressed. to Belgium by the Council during the European Semester in 2019 and 2020. It includes measures aimed at improving the efficiency of public spending and the fiscal and social sustainability of pensions, promoting training and skills development, sustainable transport, energy transition, research and innovation and digital infrastructure.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Today the European Commission has decided to give the green light to Belgium’s recovery and resilience plan. NextGenerationEU will play a crucial role in funding the investments and reforms needed to build the future to which we are committed. The 5.9 billion euros available to Belgium will finance measures that will help build a greener and more digital future for all of its citizens. The plan places particular emphasis on measures that will accelerate Belgium’s green transition, with 50% of funding geared towards achieving climate objectives. We will be at Belgium’s side every step of the way to ensure that the vision contained in the plan is fully realized. “
The plan also includes reforms and investments aimed at reducing regulatory and administrative burdens and improving the business environment. The plan represents a comprehensive and adequately balanced response to the economic and social situation in Belgium, thus contributing appropriately to the six pillars referred to in the RRF Regulation. Support flagship investment and reform projects The Belgian plan proposes projects in seven flagship European areas. These are specific investment projects that address issues common to all Member States in areas that create jobs and growth and are necessary for the green and digital transition. For example, Belgium has offered to provide more than one billion euros to renovate public and private buildings, including social housing, to improve their energy performance.
Belgium has also offered to provide around EUR 900 million to strengthen the digital, language and technical skills of vulnerable groups, job seekers and young people, to improve social inclusion and facilitate access to the labor market. . The Commission’s assessment concludes that none of the measures included in the plan cause significant damage to the environment, in accordance with the requirements set out in the RRF Regulation. The control systems put in place by Belgium are considered adequate to protect the financial interests of the Union. The plan provides sufficient detail on how national authorities will prevent, detect and correct cases of conflict of interest, corruption and fraud related to the use of funds.
An economy serving people Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis (on the picture) said: “Belgium’s recovery plan will help the country’s economy recover from successive COVID blockages and embark on a greener and more digital path. Half of the plan is devoted to supporting climate objectives, in particular with investments to make buildings more energy efficient, support green mobility and alternative energy technologies. The widespread tax reform on company cars will also help meet climate goals. The plan will support a campaign to digitize the public administration and the judiciary, which will help reduce red tape and create a more business-friendly environment. I particularly support measures which will encourage schoolchildren and workers to have more digital skills, preparing the Belgian labor market for the future. Last but not least, we welcome measures that will meet the needs of vulnerable groups, including investments in social housing and childcare services.
The Commission has adopted a proposal for a decision to award € 5.9 billion in subsidies to Belgium under the RRF. The Council will now generally have four weeks to adopt the Commission proposal. The approval of the plan by the Council would allow the payment of 770 million euros to Belgium in pre-financing. This represents 13% of the total amount allocated for Belgium. The Commission will authorize further disbursements on the basis of the satisfactory achievement of the milestones and objectives defined in the recovery and resilience plan, reflecting the progress made in the implementation of investments and reforms.
Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said: “The Belgian plan sets out a program of reforms and investments which should give a major boost to both the country’s competitiveness and its environmental and social sustainability. Two-thirds of the plan’s investments support the green or digital transition. Reform of the company car regime and investments in electric buses, charging stations and cycle paths will reduce emissions and improve air quality. Schools and rural areas will benefit from improved connectivity while justice, health and social security systems will see major improvements in efficiency through digitization. Finally, investments in skills should facilitate the social integration of vulnerable groups, reduce the digital divide and improve the career prospects of young people.