In brief

Flemish employers’ organization calls for new reform in Belgium to devolve health benefits to regions

Francophone parties oppose the move

Wouter De Geest, chairman of Voka.
Wouter De Geest, chairman of Voka. Author: Voka
Voka, the largest employers’ organization in Flanders, has called for the “full” devolution of powers over health benefits and labour policies to regional governments in Belgium. The group says a reform allowing the change should be ready by 2024. Flemish employers have proposed this after seven months have passed since the last Belgian election, a period during which no government has been formed.

According to Voka President Wouter De Geest, it is not a matter of “undermining solidarity [between regions], but of ensuring that efficiency and accountability sustain solidarity.”

The regionalization of some services is one of the areas that experts talking to Nationalia in 2019 pointed out that Flemish right-wing parties could propose in negotiations with Francophone parties to form a new government in Belgium.

Francophone parties, however, are reluctant to divide up social benefits, as they think that the change could lead to less financial resources available in Wallonia, which has a lower GDP per capita and a higher unemployment rate than Flanders.

Several Francophone media have criticised Voka’s stance, saying that the employers’ organization is following the lead of the N-VA, the main pro-independence party in Flanders.