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    The new Flemish government: what it means

    Credit: © Belga

    The new Flemish government found a Flemish coalition agreement for the coming five years, here is what changed.

    The new government, consisting of the same parties as the previous one: rightwing N-VA, centre CD&V and liberal Open Vld, came to a coalition agreement after 127 days of negotiating.

    For low incomes, the net wage will increase via a “job bonus”. Those who earn a gross wage of less than €1,700, will earn €600 net pay more on an annual basis. There will also be mandatory community service for people who have been unemployed for two years. 

    The integration process will focus more on the Dutch language and social education, and will cost a total of €360.

    For schools, the M-decree as it is now will disappear in exchange for a ‘guidance decree’. The M-decree was introduced in 2015 to integrate children with disabilities into regular education as much as possible, but it was heavily criticised for putting too much pressure on teachers. The new guidance decree will focus on care tailored to each child.

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    The tax rules regarding buying a property will change, 
    the housing bonus will disappear but be “compensated” by the registration fees falling from 7% to 6%. People applying for a social home must have lived in the municipality of the application for ten years, five of which were continuous.

    A new function, Flemish Minister for Justice and Enforcement, has been created but has not been filled yet. 

    Voting in local and provincial elections will no longer be compulsory and voting for a party instead of a candidate is no longer possible. The candidate with the most votes of the biggest party will become mayor.

    Climate-wise, Flanders strives for a reduction of 80% of greenhouse emissions by 2050. 10,000 hectares of forest and 20,000 hectares of nature will be added. Public transport has to become greener, more comprehensive and more punctual. Bicycle investments will be doubled to €300 million, and billions will go to road infrastructure.

    The Flemish budget has to be balanced by 2021, and will have to remain balanced afterwards.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times