Belgium urged to create 660,000 jobs
16 March 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium would be required to create 660,000 jobs by 2010 if it is to respect pledge by all European Union governments to boost economic growth and employment, the country’s leading business lobby said on Wednesday.
The EU’s goal, known as the Lisbon process, is to make Europe’s the world’s most competitive ‘knowledge-based’ economy by 2010, but at the moment the objective remains a far off dream.
The implications of the strategy for Belgium were calculated by the Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB).
According to FEB economist, Caroline Ven, only 60.4 percent of the Belgian population is in active employment, falling short of the EU’s 64 percent average.
The assessment comes on the eve of a Brussels summit on 22-23 March when
European leaders will take stock of progress towards the Lisbon goals.
The FEB’s “Lisbon Focus” magazine reports that Belgium has only scored 42 percent in terms of implementing its own measures towards the EU objectives.
Although it has moved from eleventh to tenth place on the score sheet of 25
EU nations, this is only because Spain performance has slipped.
For the third year in a row, Belgium’s competitiveness has declined.
“In 2005 we dropped below 30 percent, falling from twelfth to fifteenth place,” said Ven.
She said the principle reason for Belgium’s poor performance was its failure to introduce structural economic reforms.
Investments by companies and the authorities have been reduced and the opening of electricity and telecoms markets had not provided the low prices initially expected, said Ven.
The business lobby also believes more investment in research and technology is required.
But this has been hampered by financial difficulties when launching new projects.
A taxation climate more suitable to financing such initiatives is an “absolute
Necessity”, says the FEB.
The Belgian employment rate has only improved slightly in the past year because fewer people have died in the work place, says the Federation, describing the current situation as “mediocre”.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news