2019 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium
Investing in Investments!
The Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium (PPB) is our flagship policy publication, in which we pull together our main recommendations for the federal and regional governments in Belgium.
The 2019 PPB was presented as an election memorandum, ahead of the May 2019 federal, regional and European elections. It is a guideline from the international business community to attract more foreign direct investment and to create more prosperity for all. We look specifically at our member companies’ main concerns for investing and doing business in Belgium: the labor market, country governance, mobility & infrastructure, corporate taxation and healthcare.
We want more companies to say #Yes2Belgium as a business and investment location.
Belgium in the ranks
A small and open economy like Belgium depends on foreign direct investment to build a strong ecosystem for companies of all sizes, to create direct and indirect jobs at all skill levels and to increase the general welfare. If Belgium is to give a positive impulse to investors, to attract new and retain existing businesses, it will need to tackle the problems that are discouraging more companies from investing and doing business in Belgium.
The PPB calls on the next governments to invest in people to build a 21st century workforce; invest in public sector efficiency to make budgetary room for maneuver; invest in infrastructure to allow the swift movement of people, goods and services; and invest in business, to ease the cost and complexity of operating in Belgium.
With the goal of attracting more foreign investment to Belgium in mind, we set the challenge and ambition for Belgium to achieve a top ten ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index within the next ten years. Belgium is currently ranked 21st out of 140 countries.
Introduce a ceiling for employer social security contributions
- Introduce a ceiling for employer social security contributions to attract more highly qualified people to Belgium, in line with neighboring countries
Improve the flexibility of work organization and remuneration
- Increase the possibility to organize work in a flexible manner, especially in terms of night, weekend and seasonal work. Combine with a simplification of employee timekeeping
- Relax the rules on the lending of personnel
- Create a platform economy credit
Simplify talent acquisition
- Invest in reskilling employees
- Stimulate dual-learning
- Increase the number of STEM graduates
- Support cooperation between universities and companies
- Further expand the partial exemption of the wage withholding tax for qualified researchers and reduce the administrative burden
- Facilitate the immigration of qualified talent through an efficient implementation and execution of European immigration directives
Adjust automatic wage indexation
- Adjust the automatic wage indexation to apply only up to an agreed salary level
Manage government spending more efficiently
- Focus on developing and implementing a coherent and efficient government operating model across all government levels
- Revise the allocation of the government budget to make more room for investing in investments
- Enhance collaboration between federal and regional governments to reduce complexity and costs for companies
- Increase public revenues by increasing the employment rate (e.g. through activation, reskilling and healthy living)
Cut administrative burdens
- Simplify the processes for obtaining permits
- Facilitate the overall framework for companies to do business in Belgium
- Address sector-specific complexities, e.g. energy, healthcare, mobility
Mobility and Infrastructure
Invest in mobility
- Invest in infrastructure to improve the quality and efficiency of all aspects of the transport network and reinforce multi-modality
- Tackle congestion with creative and coherent solutions, by using new technologies and focusing on improved collection and processing of data (e.g. road charging, city access policies)
- Promote a variety of transport modes using fiscal incentives
- Encourage collaboration between the regions and the federal level, and simplify processes
Invest in digital infrastructure
- Invest in digital education, training and reskilling of the current and future workforce while promoting lifelong learning
- Refrain from gold-plating EU and international requirements and create a level playing field (e.g. for the current Belgian radiation norms) to allow the development of innovative technologies
- Incentivize mobile operators to invest in their networks by lowering the taxation for mobile network infrastructure
Create a best-in-class tax environment and reduce the cost of labor
- Lower the corporate tax rate to below 20% to be competitive with other countries
- Encourage companies to invest in Belgium through tax incentives for capital investments
- Reduce labor costs through introducing a cap on employer social security contributions and offer companies the ability to grant tax-friendly incentives to highly skilled and internationally mobile employees
Provide a simple and stable fiscal framework, using digital technology and standardization
- Ensure certainty for businesses to operate in Belgium through a stable tax environment and a well-functioning Ruling Commission
- Simplify tax legislation and lower administrative burdens, and implement international taxation standards without gold plating
- Implement automatization and standardization in the tax administration processes, following international standards
Enhance collaboration with tax authorities, promoting mutual respect
- Establish a transparent collaboration model to enhance cooperation between businesses and tax authorities, in a spirit of mutual respect
Work towards an ambitious government program to anticipate future healthcare needs
- Simplify and modernize collaboration and coordination between regional and federal governments and administrations
- Reform healthcare financing systems: need for transversal financing, across the silos to facilitate integrated, transmural care (including prevention)
- Eliminate waste in the system to create headroom for innovation
Foster a true innovative healthcare valley
- Simplify, broaden and speed-up reimbursement and access processes, further expand innovative funding mechanisms
- Further stimulate an R&D ecosystem for pharma and MedTech through a favorable policy framework
- Fund and create “test/pilot” settings for accelerated innovation development (Sandbox principle)
Establish ‘value based’ healthcare
- Increase the number of Centers of Excellence and speed up consolidation of hospital networks to improve outcomes and quality of care, thereby optimizing patient pathways
- Allocate sufficient resources to establish findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR) public databases to foster innovation, promote benchmarking and improve quality of care
- Embed the patient’s voice in healthcare decision-making and unlock the potential of personalized healthcare via real world data
Invest in lifelong health: from prevention and lifestyle to cure and care
- Accelerate investments in an integrated digital health infrastructure for all healthcare actors including the patient, resulting in improved overall health
- Enable accelerated investments in better health promotion and education, thereby improving health literacy and promoting healthy behavior
- Invest in the development of new skills and competences, and in technology to support health workers
Download the '2019 Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium'
Belgium will need to climb the competitiveness rankings, by investing in investments. AmCham Belgium stands ready to work with all levels of government, whatever their political affiliation, to facilitate dialogue between the international business community and policy-makers, and, on the basis of our Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium, to improve Belgium’s competitiveness and attract more foreign direct investment.
Fill in this form below to receive your copy of the #PPB19.