About the ERMG
On 19 March 2020, the Government decided to set up the Economic Risk Management Group (ERMG) in order to analyse and tackle the economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic felt by businesses, self-employed and households.
What was the task of the Economic Risk Management Group?
The Economic Risk Management Group had 3 tasks:
- Measure the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on businesses, sectors and the financial markets (“monitoring”)
- Ensure that businesses and infrastructures which are particularly critical for the country continue to operate (“business continuity”)
- Play a coordinating role by listing the measures that have been taken to tackle the economic fallout from this crisis
In carrying out these missions, the ERMG served as a forum for its members to reflect on the economic impact of the crisis and on the action that needed to be taken. The co-chairs of the ERMG reported regularly back to the government on the general conclusions reached in this work.
To start with, the objective was for the ERMG to also put forward proposals to the government for specific measures for tackling this crisis, but it soon became clear that the ERMG was not the appropriate forum to do this and its value lay mainly in its three above-mentioned missions.
The ERMG met regularly in the period up to July 2020, after which it stopped meeting and the activities of the Business Continuity Planning Task Force were put on hold. However, the National Bank and its partners within the ERMG continued to monitor the economic impact of the crisis for another year.
The National Bank also published regular indicators, in the form of a COVID-19 Dashboard, enabling interested parties to closely follow the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Belgian and international economy.
Wherever possible and in close concertation with the sector, the Task Force Business Continuity, chaired by Piet Vanthemsche, worked to ensure that critical production chains continued to function during the crisis.
Who were the members of the Economic Risk Management Group?
The ERMG was chaired by the National Bank Governor Pierre Wunsch and Dr. Piet Vanthemsche. While the Governor concentrated mainly on the economic impact and the consequences for Belgium’s financial system, Dr Vanthemsche focused primarily on business continuity and coordination with the working group dealing with the medical and preventive aspects of tackling the crisis.
The ERMG’s members also included the leading organisations representing employers and workers. For example, the employers’ organisation VBO/FEB, Unizo and the Union Wallonne des Entreprises, VOKA, Febelfin, the Boerenbond, the 3 major unions, etc. Some public entities were also involved, such as the Federal Planning Bureau and the Federal Participation and Investment Corporation.
The ERMG received extensive support from the National Bank. More than 100 staff from the Economics and Research Department, the Statistics Service, banking and insurance supervision, macroprudential services, economic relations and communication contributed to its analyses.