New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) parliamentarian Yoleen Van Camp on Sunday proposed splitting social security and devolving it to the regions. This call by the Flemish nationalists is nothing new but this time, the justification given is the high costs linked to the fight against obesity in Wallonia.
Ms Van Camp pointed to the considerable increase in refunds for stomach surgery, whose price tag went from 52.5 million euros in 2012 to 64 million euros in 2016. According to the Flemish parliamentarian, part of this expenditure could have been avoided since this type of surgery is not absolutely necessary in most cases. Weight problems could easily be resolved by consulting a dietician or a psychologist, she argued.
The number of weight-reducing operations is also twice as high in Wallonia as in Flanders if population size is considered. There were 6,265 such operations for 3.6 million inhabitants in Wallonia as against 6,462 for 6.5 million inhabitants in Flanders.
“Wallonia has more overweight and obese people,” Van Camp said. “Sixteen percent of Walloons are obese as against 12.5% of people in Flanders. The difference is most marked among young people: 25% [in Wallonia] as against 16% in Flanders. It would therefore be more appropriate to divide social security. The federated bodies would have full budgets to invest in prevention and would benefit. In concrete terms, Wallonia could, for example, do more work among the young people.”