Vivaldi parties have finished with coalition agreement: 5.3 billion n …


The score has been written, now the orchestra must be assembled. The Vivaldi parties have found each other substantive. It is not yet clear who will play which role in government.

After 493 days, a new government is finally in sight. The seven parties of the Vivaldi coalition reached a substantive agreement this morning after a marathon meeting that started on Tuesday morning. The Sherpas are now going through the text one last time, so that it can be sent out as quickly as possible. Tonight, the members of the parties still have to give their final approval through party congresses, digital or otherwise.

The last knot to untie is the division of powers. The most important question – who can supply the prime minister – has already been settled: it will be a De Croo government, and not a Magnette government. The two co-formators Paul Magnette (PS) and Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), however, both stared at the premiership. Yet it was always assumed that De Croo had the best cards and Magnette mainly aimed for an ultimate concession if he had to ‘release’ the post.

When leaving the Egmont Palace, Open VLD chairman Egbert Lachaert said he was very satisfied with the coalition agreement and the deal for the budget. “After sixteen months of standstill, there is now finally another government with a majority.” CD&V parliamentary party leader Servais Verherstraeten was also delighted. ‘I am pleased that we were able to create a program with the seven parties that I think is a center program. We have an eye for those who have a hard time, especially due to corona. But also for entrepreneurs. ‘

Verherstraeten assisted CD&V chairman Joachim Coens during the negotiations. His name is about the tongues as a candidate for the vice presidency. At the MR, Sophie Wilm├Ęs, who has to relinquish the premiership, seems to have a certitude as vice prime minister.

5.3 billion new policies and investments

The first substantive details that come out show that 5.3 billion euros is going to new policy. Of this, 3.3 billion euros will go to new policy, supplemented with a billion in investments and an extra billion for temporary measures.

The health care budget will rise 2.5 percent annually above the index and the lowest benefits will go up. There will also be substantial investments in rail, digitization and safety. When it comes to security, not everything costs money. For example, there would be a fast procedure for shoplifting to prevent recidivism.

The parties aim to increase the minimum pensions to 1,500 euros by the end of the legislature, also for the self-employed. This involves a budget of 1.3 billion (of the 5.3 billion in new policy). With the money from the wealth envelope (which is not included in that package), the pensions can count on two billion euros.

In order to stimulate entrepreneurship, the measure is extended whereby no social security contributions have to be paid on the recruitment of a first employee. Lachaert says the share of new taxes is ‘minimal’. “We now have to focus for one or two years on the recovery and fighting the crisis.” For example, the 6 percent VAT rate for demolition and reconstruction of a home will be extended to the entire Belgian territory. There will also be measures to ensure that those who work have more net savings. Childcare would become cheaper.

Driver’s license with points

A striking measure is the introduction of a driving license with points for drivers who repeatedly commit serious traffic offenses. Company cars must also be emission-free by 2026. Another new feature is that birth leave will be doubled. Instead of 10 days, new parents are now entitled to 20 days. In the field of migration, work is continuing on a more efficient return policy and the seven parties want to tackle transmigration. By 2024, a new state reform is being prepared by two ministers.

On the revenue side, it was already clear that there will be a tax for the Gafa internet giants Google, Amazon, Facebook and Ali Baba. There would also be a minimum tax for companies.

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