The federal government ends the year with a deficit of 3.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and the states and municipalities with a deficit of 1.3 percent of GDP. Together this amounts to 4.6 percent of GDP or 26.7 billion euros.
That result is less bad than expected. Compared to the October 2023 estimate, this is an improvement of 3.4 billion euros. Primary federal expenditure in particular (without interest charges) fell sharply, namely by 1.3 billion, because, among other things, the social energy tariff cost less, as did the support for families who heat with oil.
Compared to the initial preparation of the 2023 budget, the improvement amounts to 6.5 billion euros, a deviation that is mainly related to the economic growth of our country. This is not without significance, because the government and parliament at the time were concerned with the question of whether the deficit would amount to 5.8 or 6.1 percent of GDP. That discussion led to the resignation of Eva De Bleeker (Open Vld) as State Secretary for the Budget.
“Although we have had to tackle one crisis after another during this legislature, we have made an effort of 11 billion euros. And that without affecting the middle class,” De Bleeker’s successor Alexia Bertrand (Open Vld) responds in an interview.
The bad news is that despite above-average growth, Belgium is still managing to increase the budget deficit compared to 2022, when a negative balance of 3.5 percent of GDP was recorded.