Belgian PM De Croo pushing for public spending cut of €1.8 billion

Belgian PM De Croo pushing for public spending cut of €1.8 billion
Belgium's State Secretary for the Budget Alexia Bertrand and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Credit: Belga / James Arthur Gekiere

The Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and Budget Secretary Alexia Bertrand have proposed public spending to be reduced by €1.8 billion in the upcoming budget, Le Soir reports.

The Prime Minister has presented his proposal to other government ministers during ongoing negotiations over the federal budget, which has to be revised following previous miscalculations. Moreover, the Belgian Government received a warning from the European Commission to rein its public spending.

De Croo has been pushing for the Federal Government to reduce its public spending by 0.3% of Belgium's GDP, which equates to €1.8 billion. Backed up by Budget Secretary Alexia Bertrand, the Prime Minister believes that his measure should compensate for the government's earlier unexpected outlays.

These added expenses were made following successive crises: the pandemic, the European energy crisis and Belgium's ongoing issues related to the reception of asylum seekers.

What is the PM proposing?

De Croo has proposed cutting €830 million from public spending, the majority of which would come from scrapping a previously planned increase of the minimum pension.

When the Federal Government came into power, it was agreed that the pension would be increased in incremental phases. However, figures showed that scrapping a fourth increase in 2024 would see the Federal Government save €573 million.

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While perhaps backed up by data, De Croo's proposal is still set to face signification opposition from left-wing ministers, with sources telling Le Soir that "the Prime Minister is targeting pensions and social benefits."

Furthermore, French-speaking socialist ministers such as Pierre-Yves Dermagne and Karine Lalieux, in charge of employment and pensions respectively, have reportedly described the Prime Minister's proposal as "a provocation."

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