Brussels’ ‘unfavourable’ cut of EU recovery fund comes under criticism
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Brussels’ ‘unfavourable’ cut of EU recovery fund comes under criticism

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The share of the EU coronavirus recovery fund allocated to Brussels has come under heavy criticism from local political figures, who accuse the government of “abandoning” the region.

Belgium’s federal and regional governments and the various communities agreed on Monday on how to split the €5.95 billion as part of the EU’s recovery plan known as NextGenerationEU.

Brussels will be allocated €395 million, the second smallest next to the German-speaking community’s €50 million. Of the remainder:

  • €1.25 billion will go to the federal government
  • €2.25 billion to the Flemish government
  • €1.48 billion to the Walloon government
  • €495 million to the French-speaking community (Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles)

Concerned that Brussels is being left behind while Flanders and Wallonia are receiving significantly larger sums, various politicians spoke out against the comparatively smaller sum for the Brussels Region.

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“If Brussels were treated in proportion to its population, like Flanders, it would receive €413M. And the weight of Brussels in the country’s economic activity is not taken into account,” Défi president François De Smet said on Twitter on Tuesday morning.

This call was echoed by Brussels Secretary of State for the Economic Transition Barbara Trachte, who highlighted Brussel’s position as “the economic engine of the country” which “concentrates the sectors most affected by the crisis.”

Abandoning Brussels 

Criticism from De Smet and Trachte was accompanied by comments from David Leisterh, head of the francophone liberal party (MR) in Brussels, who accused the Brussels government of “ abandoning Brussels” with this recovery plan.

“The Brussels government has not tabled ambitious plans and has not fought for the people of Brussels,” he said on Twitter.

Federal climate minister Zakia Khattabi, a Brussels native, tweeted that she was “curious to learn about the analyses and criteria that prevailed in such a distribution, as unfavourable as it was to Brussels, let’s face it.”

Meanwhile, former Défi president and Woluwé-Saint-Lambert mayor Olivier Maingain said there is “nothing to complain about,” pointing out that when the amounts for the French-speaking community and its two regions are added together, “the total is greater than that of Flanders.”

The consultative committee is expected to endorse the agreement on Tuesday, RTBF reports.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times