Federal Interior Minister pushing for police pay increase amid tough budget negotiations

Federal Interior Minister pushing for police pay increase amid tough budget negotiations
Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden. Credit: Belga / Benoit Doppagne.

Federal Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden is continuing to push for a police sector pay rise, which had been recently put on hold because of difficult budget negotiations.

The police unions and Annelies Verlinden concluded an interim social agreement early this year after months of negotiations. There would be a structural wage increase of 5% on average, in addition to better career opportunities and working conditions.

"I am very confident that my colleagues will support the sectoral agreement," Verlinden said on Radio 1 on Friday. "I have heard a lot of support from all groups in parliament for strengthening the security services. After years of disinvestment, we need to turn the curve."

Money for the agreement has yet to be found in the ongoing budget negotiations. However, the federal budget for next year threatens to write deep red figures, so that kind of extra spending is at risk.

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In the interview Verlinden referred to the criminal violence of recent months, including in the Antwerp city centre.

"Both here and abroad, criminals are going about their business in a much more threefold way," she said. "They no longer shy away from any form of violence or threat and we have to respond to that with more people on the ground, more people in the judicial police and more international cooperation."

Next Tuesday, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will not only deliver his State of the Union address, but also explain the outline of the budget, which will be heavily debated in the coming days.


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