The Federal government is facing a race against the clock to find an agreement on its 2023 federal budget, with Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander de Croo expected to give his State of the Union address at 2:00 PM on Tuesday.
At 10:00 on Monday morning, the Federal Government resumed talks on the upcoming federal budget after having made significant progress over the weekend.
Measures including improving Belgium’s economic competitiveness abroad, as well as finalising their response to the energy crisis, with ministers having already agreed to extend the energy support measures announced in September by a further three months until March 2023.
However, there appear to be stumbling blocks, particularly between the French-speaking Socialist Party (PS) and both liberal parties Open-VLD and MR’s respective ideological positions on certain issues.
The disagreement originates from the liberals’ determination to remove the “equalisation” of pensions for public servants.
In Belgium, public workers’ pensions are adjusted biannually in response to increases in active officials’ salaries, depending on the region in which they serve.
The liberals, on their end, have proposed to abolish the practice, which would enable the government to establish a balance between cuts and new sources of revenue streams. The PS on the other hand, has accused them of using these discussions to justify the lowering of pensions.
Furthermore, the liberal parties’ proposal to reduce the funding of the CPAS, the body in charge of welfare for Belgian municipalities, by €70 million has also drawn the ire of socialists. The PS are objected to the idea, given the current economic and energy crisis Belgium is experiencing.