People gather in Belgium to protest against rising fuel and food prices

More than 70,000 people rallied in the Belgian capital Brussels on Monday to protest the rising cost of food and drink, while strikes in transport services brought several EU institutions to a halt in the city.

Workers at Brussels Airport and local transport networks have started a one-day strike, demanding the government take action against rising food and fuel prices.

Departures at the airport were canceled as security personnel went on strike. Most arrivals have also been cancelled.

Inflation in Belgium and all other European countries has soared in recent months, to 9 percent this month, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent commodity and fuel prices soaring and disrupted supply chains globally, which were still reeling from the coronavirus. disturbances.

The Belgian National Bank said inflation in Belgium in May was just under 10 percent, in an assessment last week, and predicted a gradual decline in inflation to below 2 percent by the fall of 2023, excluding a wage-price spiral. The bank said wage costs are unprecedentedly high, posing a threat to the competitiveness of the Belgian economy.

Workers in Belgium have received wage increases linked to inflation in recent months. Belgian Prime Minister Alexandre de Croo said workers and employees are better protected from inflation than many other EU workers due to the wage-to-inflation index.

The Belgian National Bank described the sharp rise in energy prices as a “massive impoverishment of the Belgian economy”. Once again, the bank said, inflation-linked wages have rescued many Belgian households from the worst rises in energy prices.

The pace of Belgium’s economic recovery from COVID is set to slow to 2.4 percent in 2022 and 1 percent in 2023, “particularly as the consequences of the European Union embargo on Russian oil emerge,” the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in a report at the time. earlier this month. Core inflation is expected to reach nearly 5 percent through 2023 before regressing.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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