Thank you for inviting me to this distinguished event. You meet at a critical time for the steel business as there is a lot at stake for the months to come. Let me start with the big picture.
I am delighted to be back in Brussels to present the OECD’s 2017 Economic Survey of Belgium. Let me begin by thanking Prime Minister Michel for hosting us today in his beautiful residence “Le Lambermont”, and the Belgian authorities for their support in the preparation of this Survey.
Belgium is one of the few euro area countries where GDP has already surpassed pre-crisis levels. Also, general well-being is above the average of OECD countries. When looking at the various dimensions of well-being – economic, social or environmental – Belgium has a strong performance in almost all of them. Remarkably, despite the crisis, income inequality has remained relatively low compared to other OECD countries.
The OECD has worked closely with both the European Commission and the Committee of Regions for many years and continues to do so to promote effective regional development. In this respect, the OECD signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Committee of the Regions, recognising prior and future work together.
The road ahead will not be easy, though: financial market concerns about sovereign debt are extending to a growing number of countries and now they threaten to include Belgium. Thus fiscal sustainability and higher growth are the backbone of our main recommendations in this Survey. With a public debt at 97% of GDP, a renewed and sustained effort to prefund ageing costs is needed, including revisiting intergovernmental prefunding