‘As soon as it is time to reopen, we must be there,’ says De Croo in New Year’s speech
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‘As soon as it is time to reopen, we must be there,’ says De Croo in New Year’s speech

Credit: Alexander De Croo/screengrab

In the traditional New Year’s speech, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo stressed the importance of reopening Belgium’s society and economy as soon as possible.

In a ceremony that largely took place digitally due to the coronavirus measures this year, De Croo held a speech in the Royal Palace’s Throne Room, addressing King Philippe and the different governments.

After acknowledging that 2020 has been “a difficult year” in which many Belgians have suffered and lost a lot, De Croo stated that Belgium is a resilient country, prepared to make extraordinary efforts.

“As soon as it is time for our society and our economy to reopen, we must be there. Without reservation,” he said, adding that the government will continue to support families and businesses, while counting on the social partners to reach productive agreements.

“We must do everything possible to get all people back to work as soon as possible, in their old job or in a new job,” De Croo stated, promising that the government will invest in skills, as a matter of priority.

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Looking further ahead, Belgium will make the transition to a more sustainable and digital society, according to De Croo.

Soon, Belgium will submit its interfederal investment plan to the European Commission, which puts the emphasis on pioneering technology, the production of sustainable energy and cybersecurity.

“We must also continue to invest in healthcare. And especially in the people who shape our care every day,” De Croo said, referring to the implementation of a social agreement, providing over €1 billion for an increase in wages, among other things.

Innovating healthcare will also be a keystone this year, by cooperating with private partners, research institutions and our universities, “so that we remain world leaders in pharma and vaccines, something the whole world is praising us for today.”

Lastly, De Croo stressed the importance of joining forces and embracing diversity to stand strong. “The best ideas are those that people have developed together,” he said.

Belgium has everything to succeed in the post-Covid-19 world, according to De Croo, with the most important resource being the people.

“If we bring together the wealth of experience and insight of everyone in our country, young and old, male and female, from all backgrounds, if everyone brings the best of themselves to the table, we will be stronger and able to cope with anything.”

De Croo’s full speech can be read here, in Dutch or in French.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times