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Belgian civil servants most expensive in Europe, study finds

Jul 16, 2017

Belgian civil servants are the most expensive in Europe, according to the findings of a new OECD study published by De Tijd.

The public sector employs 814,000 people in Belgium - 18.4% of the workforce, which is marginally higher than the OECD average of 18.1% but lower than in France.

According to the study, the total cost of employing a senior civil servant in Belgium adds up to €300,000 a year, beaten only by Italy on €346,000. This figure does not necesarily reflect the employee's salary, but the overall cost burden, such as paid holidays, pension contributions and healthcare.

Middle management in the Belgian civil service cost on average €161,000, the second-most expensive of the 35 OECD countries behind France. Policy officers in Belgium are the most expensive in Europe, costing on average €141,000. Belgian tax officials cost on average €75,000 to employ, again the highest of any OECD country.

No other OECD country is spending as much on civil service pensions as Belgium, the study says. The payments amount to €10.6 billion a year, or 2.6% of Belgium's gross domestic product. The report does not take into account the tax burden on staff - so a Belgian civil servant's take-home pay cannot be compared with other countries.

The study says the high cost of employing civil servants in Belgium is no surprise because private sector wage costs are also among the highest in Europe, and the civil service must pay well to attract staff.

Last week, a report by the Belgian National Bank concluded that the federal government’s services should offer better value for money. It analysed the government’s expenses and performance, comparing it with the 14 other core countries in the EU – those that have been part of the union since 1995.

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