Belgium to submit recovery plan to European Commission today
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Belgium to submit recovery plan to European Commission today

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Credit: Belga

Belgium aims to be one of the first countries in Europe to submit a recovery plan to the European Commission to receive access to the money meant for recovery after the coronavirus crisis.

“Belgium will submit its recovery plan tomorrow (Friday) and we will be among the first European countries to do so,” State Secretary for Recovery Thomas Dermine told RTBF’s ‘Jeudi en prime’ programme on Thursday.

The deadline for plans to be submitted to the European Commission was the end of April, meaning Belgium will be on time.

The issue will be on the agenda of the meeting of Belgium’s small cabinet on Friday, a government source said, with further information expected to follow.

“The Commission has asked us to come up with projects that we can implement quickly. That is why some of them are already known. They are projects that will determine the future of our country: we are going to build an energy island in the North Sea, there will be a centre for artificial intelligence in Brussels and biotechnology schools in Wallonia.”

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Belgium will receive €5.9 billion from the EU. Between 2021-2026, the government investments will primarily focus on 2021 (€1.107 billion), 2022 (€1.563) and 2023 (€1.121), the State Secretary announced in mid-April. A total of 85 investment projects were selected, as well as about 20 proposals, Dermine confirmed on RTBF.

The lion’s share of the funds (56%) goes to infrastructure, including transport, energy and buildings.

“Investing in social housing, in buildings and in schools is an excellent investment,” Dermine explained. “You increase the comfort of use and, in addition, you reduce the carbon footprint and put workers back to work in the construction sector, which goes a long way.” In addition, Belgium will spend 28% on digitalisation.

“The European plan is a first stone in the reinvestment in our infrastructure,” Dermine said.

Update: The European Commission announced on 1 May that it by now has received a total of 13 recovery and resilience plans, from Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, and Slovakia.

The Brussels Times