Country profile - (Belgium)
Belgium enjoys a high standard of living and a high per capita income. In the yearly UN Human Development Report, Belgium is consistently ranked among the countries with the highest human development index. There are large differences in wealth and poverty in Belgium. However, the social welfare programmes prevent extreme poverty.
The Belgian social welfare system covers family allowance, unemployment insurance, pensions, medical benefits, and a programme that provides salary in case of illness. Employers and workers contribute to the system. Many companies also offer supplementary retirement and medical programmes. Almost all citizens are covered by medical insurance.
Each region has special councils that provide public assistance and aid to the poor. Housing societies provide low-income housing for the poor and immigrants. Policies to eliminate slums and revitalise urban neighbourhoods are also in place.
Overall, Belgium's educational system (community competence) is of good quality. Freedom of education is a constitutional right. Both public and private schools exist, but the community governments has subsidised private schools since the legal system abolished fees in 1958. Children must attend school between the ages of 6 and 18. The country has seven universities (four that teach in French and three that teach in Dutch). There are also a number of specialised and technical schools.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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