De Croo invites ministers to barbecue for calmer discussion on pension reform

De Croo invites ministers to barbecue for calmer discussion on pension reform
Credit: Belga/Canva

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo will reportedly organise a barbecue with federal ministers to debate the pension reform in a less divisive setting.

On Friday evening, the Ministers of the Federal Government will be welcomed to the home of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo for a barbecue, according to Belga News Agency. The government is looking to tackle this difficult issue before 21 July, the start of the summer recess. But various government parties don't see eye to eye on the topic.

As the cost of ageing rises, pension reform is deemed necessary to continue paying pensions to retired people living in the country. In the next two years alone, pension costs are predicted to increase by €4.9 billion as a result of the indexation of pensions and the increase in the number of pensioners.

To cover this cost, the government will have to find a way to get more people into work and ensure they work longer, for example by giving incentives. Negotiations have reportedly been ongoing since February this year, but these have yet to bring about a compromise.

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Friday's barbecue is intended as a calm venue, especially following statements from Eva De Bleeker, State Secretary for Budget who warned that the failure to carry out reforms could lead to a decrease in the European recovery funds. Her remarks were fiercely criticised by pension minister Karine Lalieux.

Fellow PS member Thomas Dermine stated that the remarks "ignore the reality that Belgium's relations with the European Commission are excellent," adding that De Bleeker created "unnecessary confusion in the debate on issues that are essential for our citizens."

Possible agreement soon

According to Egbert Lachaert, chair of the Open VLD party (of which De Bleeker is a member), it should be possible to reach an agreement on Saturday on the four elements of the reform that are currently on the table.

These include the conditions that will apply to have access to a minimum pension, including that people have to work for at least 20 years before being entitled to a pension. However, the conditions of part-time workers will be taken into account, of which many are women.

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