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Accord on social security issues

31 October 2007

BRUSSELS – Christian democrat and liberal negotiators reached accord on Tuesday night on the social matters to be included in the draft coalition agreement. The spokesperson for formateur Yves Leterme has confirmed this.

It was agreed that benefits would be linked to prosperity, the child allowance would be linked to progress in prosperity, and that pensions too would be gradually linked to average wage evolution.

After another day of negotiations the Christian democrats and liberals managed just after midnight to agree on the social chapter entitled “protection guided by solidarity and responsibility”. “The future coalition partners want to further build up a caring society characterised by solidarity, one that offers solid social protection for the whole population,” a press release states.

The accord provides for a series of measures and objectives. It was agreed that the financing for the social security system would be insured. The pressure on labour will be lightened somewhat by compensation via alternative financing. The future coalition partners have also agreed to allow benefits to evolve in line with the increase in prosperity. Purchasing power of single parent families will also be given “special attention,” the parties say. It was also decided to gradually increase the child allowance for the self-employed so as to eventually realise a uniform child allowance system. The child allowance will also be linked to the evolution of prosperity and the system of higher child allowances available for disabled children will be expanded to include children born before 1 January 1993.

The Christian democrat and liberal negotiators want to “gradually make pensions prosperity-related by linking them to the average progression in wages.” The wage ceiling on which the pensions are calculated will also be re-evaluated every two years.

The negotiators also promised extra efforts for disabled people and “full fledged social protection for the self-employed,”

Talks will resume on Wednesday at 9 am. The unsolved sticking points surrounding the labour market policy will then be up for discussion. Some difficult areas, particularly those with budget implications, may be pushed back until after the weekend.

The plenary meeting planned on Tuesday to discuss the problems of Belgium’s linguistic communities did not take place. For the time being it does not look as if this meeting will take place today either. The formateur is expected to broach the issue of Belgium’s communities in bilateral talks and informal meetings. The intention remains however to have the most important sections of a draft coalition accord ready this evening, leaving the issues of the linguistic communities, the BHV electoral region and the budget out of consideration for the moment.

[Copyright Expatica News 2007]

Subject: Belgian news