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25/09/2013 : Country Seminar on Belgium: Medium-term challenges for the Belgian economy

Although the Belgian economy recovered relatively well in 2010 from the economic and financial crisis, the economic slowdown experienced since the second half of 2011 has exposed more clearly Belgium's weaknesses, in particular in relation to the competitiveness of its economy and the sustainability of its public finances.

They call for decisive action in the form of both the implementation of deep structural reforms and the continuation of the on-going fiscal consolidation strategy. In addition, in the past decades, Belgium has undertaken a series of profound institutional reforms towards federalism. This has had and will certainly continue to have far-reaching consequences, not only on its public finances but also on the functioning of the economy as a whole. Hence, a reform agenda for Belgium cannot be discussed in isolation from the institutional set-up of the country.

Scope of the seminar

This workshop will allow to exchange and debate ideas on these topics. The first session will put the emphasis on how reforms and priorities could achieve simultaneously both objectives of increasing competitiveness and successfully consolidating public finances. The second session will focus on the effects of the institutional changes implemented in the past decades on the Belgian economy, including public finances. Finally, a panel discussion will give an opportunity to reflect on the two sessions, discussing how to design the policy response in a way that fiscal consolidation and measures to increase competitiveness reinforce each other, and how the institutional set-up could contribute to these objectives.

List of speakers and panelists

Etienne de Callataÿ (Bank Degroof), Giuseppe Pagano (Université de Mons), Caroline Ven (Verbond van Kristelijke Werkgevers), Xavier Timbeau (Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Economiques), Andre Decoster, (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Geert Jennes, (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Hansjörg Blöchliger (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), Wim Moesen (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Andre Sapir (Université Libre de Bruxelles and Bruegel Centre), Pierre Defraigne (Madariaga Foundation), Edward Gardner (International Monetary Fund), Henri Bogaert (Université de Namur and Federal Planning Bureau), Marco Buti (European Commission), Servaas Deroose (European Commission), Anne Bucher (European Commission), Lucio Pench (European Commission) and Javier Yaniz Igal (European Commission).

Date and venue

25 September 2013, Charlemagne Building (2ndfloor) – Room Alcide de Gasperi (GASP)

170 rue de la Loi, 1040 Brussels


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