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The European semester in Belgium: A state of play

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After four rounds of the European Semester process of EU economic coordination, Belgium has done relatively little to comply with EU recommendations. This brief substantiates and confirms this claim after clarifying the meaning of these recommendations. While the challenges underlined by the European Commission still lie ahead, Belgium’s ownership of the recommendations for reforms has been low. Not only do coordination processes remain bureaucratic and technocratic, but many of the recommendations’ concerns – external competitiveness, social security reforms, market reforms – are not traditionally defended by the political left in Belgium. The controversy surrounding the recommendations for national structural reforms owes much to their supply-side orientation, which contrasts with the inability of the EU to pursue demand-side policies. But despite this disequilibrium, the recommendations highlight relevant issues that ought to be addressed, and indicate where scope for national debate exists.

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