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The recovery plan is finally taking shape in Belgium

An agreement has been reached for the sharing of the European manna which will be dedicated to sustainable projects.

An agreement has been reached for the sharing of the European manna which will be dedicated to sustainable projects.

From our correspondent, Max Helleff (Brussels) – Belgium is touching its recovery plan with the tip of its finger. An agreement was reached between the federal government and the regions, under the aegis of Socialist Secretary of State Thomas Dermine. The 5.95 billion euros promised by Europe to revive the economic machine after the health crisis are distributed as follows: 1.25 billion for the federal government, 2.2 billion for Flanders, 1.5 billion for Wallonia , 395 million for Brussels (which screams scandal). The small German-speaking community (70,000 people) gets by with 50 million euros.

This money will be invested in five strategic directions. They have the ambition to move towards a world where greenhouse gas emissions will be a thing of the past and where digital development will be total. They involve mobility (rail, bicycle, electric and smart mobility, etc.), social issues and living together (healthcare, education, etc.), sustainability (energy renovation of buildings, renewable energies, etc.); digital projects (5G, optical fiber, cybersecurity, etc.) and productivity (research, entrepreneurship, etc.).

25 billion euros

This plan has been overdue for months, with Prime Minister Alexander De Croo repeatedly calling for patience. This time could not be infinite, however, the delivery of copies having been set for the end of this month by Europe. Hence this agreement which distributes the money almost evenly between Flemings and French speakers, even if there are still tensions. For Thomas Dermine, “on the basis of the agreement reached on Monday, Belgium will be on time for this important European objective”.

However, European money will not be enough to finance the many stimulus projects estimated to cost 25 billion euros. If it is clear that Belgium intends to use the earthquake caused by the covid to modernize and break (in part) with the past, the funds must be found. With interest rates at their lowest, most will go through borrowing.

To follow the De Croo government, there should therefore be no new taxes during this legislature despite the huge sums spent to support the economy and jobs during successive lockdowns. Except on securities accounts.

This tax is set at 0.15% and applies to securities accounts with a value greater than 1 million euros. It will apply to stocks, bonds and other derivative products held by Belgians at home or abroad, and to securities accounts held in Belgium by foreigners.

For the moment, a bill unites the partners of the ruling majority. But there is still a gap between the will of the Socialist Party of Paul Magnette to tax the rich and that of the Reform Movement (liberal francophone) of Georges-Louis Bouchez to reduce the drain as much as possible. Magnette wants to tax “the really hyper, super rich up to 2 or 3%.” The liberals are sticking to the threshold of one million euros, without tax escalation. As for environmentalists, they say they appreciate the “solidity” of a text that broadly unites the partners of the Vivaldi coalition. The government’s goal is to raise nearly half a billion euros in this way.

Political “solidity”? This remains to be proven. And what about the law? It is not impossible that the text will be blocked by the Constitutional Court, the threshold of one million euros – which wants to preserve the middle class – already appearing arbitrary to certain owners of securities accounts.


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