Speech: Prime Minister Alexander De Croo addresses Constituted bodies on New Year’s Reception (30 January 2024)

Sarhan Basem

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo delivered a speech to the assembled authorities during the King’s customary New Year’s Reception.

Here is full speech text:

Speech to the National Authorities

Brussels, 30 January 2024

Alexander De Croo
Prime Minister

Your Majesty,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is an honour to be with you today to talk about what the future holds.

The future has always been a source of concern, bringing its share of uncertainties.

In a world as complex as ours, our fellow citizens are sometimes overcome by a feeling of powerlessness. They feel like they are losing their footing.

A war is still being fought on our continent and a terrible conflict is raging in the Middle East: two conflicts that raise many fears and unknowns.

But individually and collectively, we have the capacity to provide answers; to work on providing certainty. 

Everyone has a place in our society.

Our task is to ensure that everyone’s commitment is rewarded, appreciated and valued.

This is a task for all of us.

At the same time, we must remain realistic and recognize that, in the face of these challenges, the solutions are neither quick nor simple.

Change is not easy. It takes effort.

Our citizens are sometimes understandably reluctant when change comes too quickly.

Even if politics is at the service of everyone, let’s not forget that behind every statistic, there is a human being.

Today, I am thinking above all of farmers and entrepreneurs, whose concerns are legitimate.

I also understand the anxiety about the many measures that the agricultural sector needs to implement quickly; obligations that distract them from their core business, which is their fields and livestock.

But the government is open to constructive dialogue to support the sector.

Agriculture is the backbone of our society, and an essential part of our economy.

The hard work and dedication of farmers have shaped our country and brought us prosperity.

I am aware of the need to provide legal certainty so that farms can remain viable.

Let there be no doubt: the sector has a future in our country, and in the European Union.

The government will also advocate this on the European stage.

We are ready to listen and work together towards a healthy future for agriculture.

As a society, we are at our best when we work together to tackle challenges.

The goal must be to show ambition and raise the entire country to the level of the best in Europe, leveraging Belgium’s favourable starting position to address and resolve our weaknesses.

The only way to achieve this is to keep growing and innovating.

Let that be the strength of our country.

Our economy is growing faster than that of neighbouring countries.

Poverty is declining more sharply than elsewhere.

Growth and innovation are the cornerstone of our social protection.

That is why our country is using its European presidency to help our country grow further, which will primarily benefit Belgians and fellow Europeans.

We are doing this by bringing our internal market up to date, and through an Industry Deal that supports everyone who wants to invest in the future.

We sometimes think that the environment and industry are at odds with each other.

But nothing could be further from the truth.

Our ambition is to make innovation a driver of a sustainable society.

We must also ensure that every citizen can benefit from quality education and training.

All Belgians must have access to employment.

This requires cooperation between the regions, and cooperation with the social partners.

We are working on it.

Moreover, we will take up this challenge head-on at tomorrow’s Social Dialogue Summit, together with the social partners and the European Commission. 

This will require us to address labour market shortages, deliver better training to citizens, and make the digital transformation an asset for Europe.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The European Union remains a model of prosperity and peace.

We have not forgotten the two terrible world wars.

The European Union was built on the desire to no longer have war between our sovereign countries, of which there are now 27.

European citizens are convinced of the added value of the European project.

And that is why they are so concerned about all the victims of war and conflict on our doorstep.

The fighting in the Middle East has caused untold suffering since October.

Terrorists have murdered and raped people, and taken hostages. We continue to condemn this in the strongest terms.

But there are also too many civilian casualties, and that is simply unacceptable.

That is why our country is crystal clear when it asks that international law be respected – including the decisions of the International Court of Justice.

Confrontation and conflict have never brought prosperity or happiness to a country or region.

Belgium will always be a partner for those who want to talk seriously about stopping the war.

Every human life counts, regardless of origin, religion or background.

Every life is filled with dreams, love, hope and connection with others.

The people of Gaza and Israel long for peace, security and a better future for themselves and their loved ones.

But peace and stability can only be achieved through dialogue, understanding and mutual respect.

Your Majesty,

Your Royal Highness,

Ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the government, I wish you a year full of positive and courageous choices.

Cooperation is and will remain the key to our country’s progress and prosperity.

May this collaboration continue to flourish!

Only through dialogue can we build inclusive societies in which every voice counts.

In naam van de regering wens ik u een jaar vol positieve en moedige keuzes.

Samenwerking is en blijft de sleutel tot de vooruitgang en welvaart van ons land.

Moge deze samenwerking blijven bloeien!

Alleen door dialoog kunnen we inclusieve samenlevingen opbouwen waarin elke stem telt.

Im Namen der Regierung wĂĽnsche ich Ihnen ein Jahr voller positiver und mutiger Entscheidungen.

Zusammenarbeit ist und bleibt der SchlĂĽssel zum Fortschritt und Wohlstand unseres Landes.

Möge diese Zusammenarbeit weiterhin blühen!

Nur durch Dialog können wir inklusive Gesellschaften aufbauen, in denen jede Stimme zählt.

Au nom du gouvernement, je vous souhaite une année faite de choix positifs et audacieux.

La coopération reste la clé du progrès et de la prospérité de notre pays.

J’espère qu’elle a de beaux jours devant elle.

Seul le dialogue nous permet de construire des sociétés inclusives dans lesquelles chaque voix compte.

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Sarhan Basem is Brussels Morning's Senior Correspondent to the European Parliament. With a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, Sarhan brings a unique blend of linguistic finesse and analytical prowess to his reporting. Specializing in foreign affairs, human rights, civil liberties, and security issues, he delves deep into the intricacies of global politics to provide insightful commentary and in-depth coverage. Beyond the world of journalism, Sarhan is an avid traveler, exploring new cultures and cuisines, and enjoys unwinding with a good book or indulging in outdoor adventures whenever possible.