The debt of the Belgian government was 548.5 billion euros at the end of 2021. That is an increase of 33.3 billion euros compared to the end of 2020. The debt ratio fell in the same period from 112 percent of GDP to 109.2 percent of GDP. This is stated in a report by the Court of Auditors. That 109.2 percent is still higher than in the period 2017-2019, when the debt ratio was 102 percent, 99.9 percent and 97.6 percent of GDP respectively.
The Court of Audit points to the fact that public finances suffered heavily from the corona crisis in 2020 and 2021. This exceptional situation also prompted the European Commission to activate the general escape clause of the Stability and Growth Pact in March 2020. This offers the European member states the opportunity to temporarily deviate from their budgetary adjustment path. It explains why the Commission has not initiated an excessive deficit procedure against Belgium.
In 2021, the general government’s financing balance amounted to -5.6 percent of GDP (converted to 27.9 billion euros). That is considerably lower than the -9 percent in 2020, but higher than the figures for the period 2017-2019 (respectively -0.7 percent, -0.9 percent and -1.9 percent of GDP).
Belgium’s structural balance for 2021 was -4.5 percent of GDP. That improved by 1 percent compared to 2020, but worsened compared to 2019 (-2.7 percent).