Belgium's State Secretary for Economic Recovery Thomas Dermine (PS) told the RTBF on Friday that the Federal Government has not requested the first payment of the European Union's Covid-19 recovery package.
The EU had allocated €4.5 billion to Belgium to invest in energy, infrastructure and the renovation of buildings to aid its post-pandemic economic recovery. The first payment could have been requested by the Federal Government on Friday.
However, as a prerequisite to receiving the payment, the European Commission asked Belgium to adopt 20 reforms. At present, two points are yet to adopted — one in the fight against money laundering, the other related to pension reform.
While the Federal Government agreed on the latter last summer, their plans would slightly increase pension expenditure in the long term, whereas Europe wanted this to be controlled.
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As a result, the government opted not to request the first €850 million payment from the EU, preferring to renegotiate the pension reform among each other first.
"Europe is not asking us for a tough reform, but rather to find a balance," Dermine told the RTBF on Friday, with Belgian PM Alexander De Croo having recently confirmed his willingness to find an agreement on the issue.