Not virologists, but economists: Belgium gets new expert group to tackle inflation

Not virologists, but economists: Belgium gets new expert group to tackle inflation
Credit: Belga

The Federal Government has set up an expert group that will guide the authorities on issues such as purchasing power and competitiveness, in a bid to tackle inflation and the many other economic challenges presented by the war in Ukraine.

Similar to the GEMS advisory group, which guided the authorities through the management of the Covid-19 pandemic, this group will provide recommendations and advice to help the government with the economic challenges posed by the war.

"During Covid, we listened to the virologists, now we are going to listen to the economists," Prime Minister Alexander De Croo told Belga News Agency on Thursday when he attended the first meeting of the new eight-member expert group.

Similar to during the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be a dashboard, this time not from Sciensano but from the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), with the most important economic indicators.

"These are particularly difficult times. We are faced with a situation that our country has not experienced in the past 30-40 years. We are entering a period of instability, of which we do not know how long it will last," said De Croo.

The overall objective is to enable the Federal Government to measure the magnitude of the economic shock caused by the war in Ukraine, analyse its evolution on an ongoing basis, see how this shock impacts households and businesses, and provide concrete solutions to the identified problems and vulnerabilities.

The 'Purchasing Power and Competitiveness' expert group will consist of the Governor at the National Bank of Belgium Pierre Wunsch, economists Mathias Dewatripont (ULB), Philippe Defeyt (Université de Namur), Paul De Grauwe (London School of Economics), Koen Schoors (University of Ghent), Sarah Vansteenkiste ( KU Leuven) and Bertrand Candelon (Louvain School of Management), and CEO of BeCommerce Sofie Geeroms.

The expert group was not given an agenda or timing, but they were asked to provide figures for the most important economic indicators. The group will meet at regular intervals under the chairmanship of the governor of the National Bank of Belgium.

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