Earlier this year, Prime Minister Charles Michel presented the ‘Investment Pact’, which aims to mobilize €60 billion by 2030 to finance investment projects in five key areas: mobility, energy, digitalization, safety and healthcare.
With winds of change sweeping across the international political and economic landscape, a small and open economy such as Belgium has to grab new opportunities and embrace transformation to maintain and improve its international competitiveness, attracting investment and jobs.
“The Belgian economy is doing well, but we need to watch out for complacency,” recently said Jan Smets, Governor of the National Bank of Belgium (NBB), summarizing the NBB’s annual report. Prime Minister Michel has stressed that the Federal Government shouldn’t stand still in the year before the next elections. The National Pact for Strategic Investments must ensure €60 billion in investments by 2030. The mantra ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ is to be joined by a new credo: ‘invest, invest, invest’.
The Federal Government’s overall priority for 2014-2019 – ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’ – has been successful: 66,000 new jobs were created in 2017, of which 50,000 in the private sector, and the unemployment rate has dropped to 7.3%. Following its launch in March 2017, the Investment Pact is now underway.
The five domains targeted by the €60-billion Investment Pact – mobility, energy, digitalization, safety and healthcare – align closely with the concerns of the international business community. In our 2017 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium, we encouraged investment in the country’s transport infrastructure to alleviate congestion on the network and support logistics activities, while a digitalization drive could help improve the efficiency of public services. Investment will also be necessary to secure the energy supply beyond the nuclear phase-out still planned for 2025.
The success of the Investment Pact will largely depend on strong inter-regional cooperation. As a result of consecutive state reforms, available funds and decision-making power have been transferred to the regions. Another related aspect of the Strategic Investment Plan is the continued consolidation and restructuring of the government, moving the public sector toward a more efficient operating model.
AmCham Belgium welcomes the Prime Minister’s investment-driven spirit and reaffirms its readiness to be a partner to all levels of government in the process of change toward a more innovative and growth-oriented Belgium.