Of the 14,779 Ukrainian refugees registered with the Flemish public employment service VDAB, only 27 percent are currently employed, announced Regional Minister

for Economy and Employment Jo Brouns (CD&V, Christian Democrats) on February 19. Flemish MP Maaike De Vreese, who requested these figures from the government, insists that this figure is too low and demands the implementation of additional measures.

In recent months, there has been a steady increase in the arrival of Ukrainians with prior work experience to the region, De Vreese stated. Of the Ukrainians registered with VDAB, 45 percent (6,599 people) have previously worked. However, the number of those currently employed remains low at 27 percent (4,045), she said. Statistics show that as of the end of September, there were 22,144 Ukrainians of working age in Flanders.

"I urge Minister Brouns to take additional measures urgently. All Ukrainians must be registered with VDAB. VDAB, as well as our local authorities... must take action to help these people find employment," De Vreese stated. Mandatory registration with VDAB was introduced in 2023, but there are no deadlines or sanctions for those who do not register.

According to De Vreese, too many Ukrainians still receive an equivalent living wage. "The low employment rates are a direct consequence of the federal government's decision to immediately grant Ukrainian refugees the right to a living wage. The government has chosen to grant temporarily displaced individuals immediate full access to our social security system. We have repeatedly said that this is a bad idea. Give people a bed, a bath, bread, and counseling. Unfortunately, our bill was rejected in the federal parliament," added the representative of the opposition party in the Flemish parliament.

Maaike De Vreese is a relatively young politician who emerged as an advisor to political heavyweight Theo Francken from 2014 to 2018, who advocates for "peace with Russia at any cost." This politician takes a conciliatory stance towards Russia and, after the events in Bucha, gave his infamous interview titled "Ukraine should not drag us into an open war with Russia." 

The position of N-VA regarding Ukrainian refugees, who are trying to recover from the horrors of war, stands out significantly on the political map of Europe, is well known in Kyiv, and may soon become the subject of negotiations between Ukraine and Belgium. Photo by n-va.be.