Budget debate on ‘State of the Union’ ended, confidence vote this afternoon | Domestic

The debate in the House on the State of the Union that Prime Minister Alexander De Croo delivered on Tuesday ended at just before 3 o’clock on Wednesday night. This afternoon at 3:15 p.m., if all goes well, the House will give the government its confidence for the last time before the elections.

The government reached an agreement on the 2024 budget on Monday evening. It is making an effort of 1.2 billion euros, which should limit the federal deficit to 3 percent of gross domestic product next year, and is releasing 500 million euros for new policy. The expansion of flexi-jobs and the higher minimum wage, among other things, stand out.

That deal has been debated in Parliament since Wednesday afternoon. Peter De Roover (N-VA) accused the government of misleading the population with overly rosy figures and “fake news”, Barbara Pas (Vlaams Belang) called Vivaldi’s balance sheet “disastrous”. On the left side of the spectrum, PVDA criticized a lack of purchasing power measures: those who work should not need a flexi-job to make ends meet, said party leader Sofie Merckx.

The majority parties defended the policy, as did Prime Minister De Croo, who attended the entire debate. At the end of the night’s proceedings, he once again highlighted his government’s achievements: it created as many jobs as the previous government, but did so in times of crisis, and protected purchasing power better than any other country, he said. In addition, Belgium is doing well in terms of innovation and competitiveness and the pay gap between men and women is the smallest in our country, the Prime Minister emphasized.

There’s work to be done

At the same time, De Croo admitted that there is still work to be done, including to increase the employment rate to 80 percent or to further reform pensions. In the next eight months before the elections, Vivaldi will focus, among other things, on the implementation of the budget agreement, the Belgian presidency of the European Union, where the migration pact is on the agenda, and the fight against drug crime in Brussels and Antwerp.

The House will meet again at 3.15 pm for the vote of confidence.