Economic projections for Belgium

The National Bank of Belgium publishes economic projections for Belgium twice a year. The main results are reproduced here. The results are discussed in more detail in the June 2021 issue of the Economic Review.

Projections économiques 2021

The projections are produced as part of a joint Eurosystem exercise and are based on technical assumptions and international forecasts formulated jointly by the ECB and the euro area central banks. They only take account of measures that have been – or are very likely to be – formally approved and for which the implementing arrangements have been set out in sufficient detail at the cut-off date of the projections. The projection period runs to year t+3 (in this case up to 2023); the margin of error surrounding the projections is wider for the later years, partly owing to the greater uncertainty about the assumptions, especially those concerning the international environment. Owing to the uncertainty surrounding future developments with the COVID‑19 health crisis and about the revival of demand, these projections come with considerable risks, both upside and downside.

The latest projections for Belgium, published on 14 June 2021, were finalised on 26 May 2021. The corresponding results for the euro area are published on a dedicated webpage on the ECB’s website.

Economic activity in Belgium economy is set to grow by 5.5 % this year, inter alia thanks to the progress made with the vaccination campaign which is enabling a gradual relaxation of the restrictive measures. Consequently, GDP will be back up to its pre-crisis level by the end of 2021, after which growth will normalise, reaching 3.3% in 2022 and 1.6% in 2023. The labour market has come through the crisis practically unscathed: unemployment has barely risen and the majority of temporarily unemployed workers should be able to get back to work after the protective measures are lifted. The unemployment rate is not expected to exceed the 6 % mark. Inflation is rising strongly in 2021, projected to reach 2.2%, notably under the influence of higher energy prices, and after that should moderate to 1.8% in 2023. The government deficit for 2021 is estimated at 6.8 % of GDP. It should then come down but still work out at around 4.5% of GDP in 2023, at unchanged policy. Public debt is on an upward path and is likely to remain so after 2023, too.

Projections for Belgium: summary of the main results

 

2019

2020

2021e

2022e

2023e

Real GDP
(percentage changes)

1,8

-6,3

5,5

3,3

 1,6

Domestic employment  
(average annual change. in persons)

75 600

-800

31 600

8 400

 32 100

Unemployment rate
(in % of the labour force)¹

5,4

5,6

5,8

6,0

5,9

Inflation
(HICP – percentage changes)

1,2

0,4

2,2

2,1

 1,8

Overall balance of general government
(in % of GDP)

-1,9

-9,4

-6,8

-4,0

 -4,5

Public debt
(in % of GDP)

98,1

114,1

112,8

112,1

113,7

Source: NBB

1 15-64-year-olds, gross data

Date finalised: 26 May 2021. Next publication: December 2021