Country report Belgium - Work Package 1 Ex post evaluation of Cohesion Policy programmes 2007-2013, focusing on the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Cohesion Fund (CF)
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Belgium experienced a slow recovery after the economic recession in 2008-2009 and from 2010 growth of GDP was well below the rates in the pre-crisis period. This adversely affected job creation. Unemployment was 1% higher in 2015 than in 2007 while the employment rate remained unchanged at around 67% - far below the Europe 2020 target of 75%. Throughout the programming period, public debt remained high at close to 100% of GDP or above, pushed up by the crisis. A series of fiscal consolidation measures to contain the debt were taken in the later years of the period.
Although Belgium is a small country, there is a distinct North-South divide between the Flemish and Walloon regions. In the Flemish regions, GDP per head is roughly a third higher than in the Walloon region, which includes Hainaut, the only Phasing-out region in the 2007-2013 period. There was no real change in this divide over the period.
The funding from the ERDF amounted to EUR 987 million over the period, which was equivalent to just over 1% of Government capital expenditure and EUR 13 per head of population a year. In the course of the period, the EU co-financing rate was increased from an average of 41% to 51% in order to reduce national co-funding requirements, especially in the Phasing-out region of Hainaut, and to relieve the pressure on public finances. As a result, the overall funding for programmes was cut by over 20% as compared with initial plans.
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