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Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews By Patrick van Haute, Belgian Ambassador to the OECD. The First OECD-SouthEast Asia Regional Forum Jakarta, 23-24 January 2007. Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews. Contents Historical background Today The 2007 Belgian economic review in detail

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The First OECD-SouthEast Asia Regional Forum Jakarta, 23-24 January 2007

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Belgium s experience with peer reviews by patrick van haute belgian ambassador to the oecd l.jpg

Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews

By Patrick van Haute,

Belgian Ambassador to the OECD

The First OECD-SouthEast Asia Regional ForumJakarta, 23-24 January 2007


Belgium s experience with peer reviews l.jpg

Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews

  • Contents

  • Historical background

  • Today

  • The 2007 Belgian economic review in detail

  • Pro’s and Con’s


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsHistorical Background (1)

  • 1914-1929-1945: Two World Wars, one Big Depression.

  • World War I: 6 to 10 millions dead

  • 1929 depression:

  • Governments try to isolate their economy from external shocks with competitive devaluations, withdrawal from FDI, tariffs increases, creation of trade preferences…

  • Failure of uncoordinated solutions

  • World War II: 62.5 millions dead: 23 in Soviet Union, 20 in Asia, 19 in WE and 600.000 in the US. The European economy is destroyed.


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsHistorical Background (2)

  • 1945-1961

  • Multilateral reaction to rebuild the European economy: Marshall Plan (1947), OECE (1949), OECD (1961)

  • European reaction: ECCS (1951), Common Market (1957), EC, EU

  • OECD Convention Article 5

    In order to achieve its aims, the Organisation may:

    (a) take decisions which…shall be binding on all the Members

    (b) make recommandationsto Members; and

    (c) enter into agreements with Members, non-member States and international organisations.

  • Commitment by Member States to accept being reviewed.


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsHistorical Background (3)

  • 1961-2007

  • 45 years of experience, changes, evolutions, … the peer review system is tailormade for the OECD countries. It is not a one-size-fits-all system.

  • Started with review of economic policy. During 45 years, extended to many other areas: energy, environment, regulatory reform, competition, e-government, development cooperation, …

  • In 2006, Belgium was under review in six different fields: energy, environment, economic review, anti-bribery, money laundering and development cooperation.


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsToday

  • Features of the Peer Review process

  • Checks and balances between 3 parties: the country examined, the Committee and the Secretariat.

  • The Secretariat drafts, the country replies, the Committee discusses.

  • Two lead-examiners.

  • Adoption of the report by the EDRC Committee by consensus (i.e. with the approval of the reviewed country).

  • One or two visits to the country under review

  • Publication


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsA detailed example: the Belgian Economic Review 2007(1)

  • The whole process takes almost 12 months.

  • Step 1 (End May 06): First questionnaire

    • 11 pages, 166 questions sent by the ECO Directorate. Questions are precise and targeted. No general political questions.

    • Topics: financial sector, labour market developments, tertiary education, …

    • The PM Office in Brussels allocates the questions between the different ministeries and agencies. They prepare written answers.

  • Step 2 (19-23 June 06): First visit:

    • a 4 persons team comes to Brussels for a full week of discussions: 5 days, 50 hours, meetings with 103 persons.


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsA detailed example: the Belgian Economic Review 2007(2)

  • Step 3 (End August 06): Second questionnaire

    • 4 pages, 60 questions.

    • The PM Office in Brussels allocates the questions between the different agencies. They prepare written answers.

    • Topics: fiscal policy, labour market policies, tertiary education, financial markets, consumer policy, …

    • Prepared answers to the 2 questionnaires amounted 996 pages + 1043 pages of additional documentation.

  • Step 4 (11-13 September 06) Second visit

    • A 5 persons team comes to Brussels: 3 days, 30 hours of meetings with 66 persons.


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsA detailed example: the Belgian Economic Review 2007(3)

  • Step 5 (20 November 06) Draft Report

    • 135 pages : 1 page executive summary, 6 pages of assessment and recommandaations, 15 recommandations.

    • Examples: a more ambitious fiscal objective is welcome, the labour market is still not functioning properly, tax incentives to savings should be reconsidered.

    • Report sent to PM Office which requests the agencies to react by 30 November.

    • Coordination of reactions by 7 December. 92 pages of redrafting proposals

  • Step 6 (11 December 06) EDRC session

    • The Economic Development Review Committee meets to examine the report: 6 hours, 15 Belgian delegation members, lead by PM Economic adviser.

    • Two lead-examiners: Portugal and Switzerland


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsA detailed example: the Belgian Economic Review 2007(4)

  • Step 7 (12 December 2006) Session for redrafting the recommandations: 6 hours

  • Step 8 (During January 07) Written procedure to clear the definitive version by the EDRC committee (consensus)

  • Step 9 ( February 07) Translation and Printing

  • Step 10 (13 March 2007): Press conference in Brussels

  • by the Prime Minister and the OECD Secretary General to present the review


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsPro’s and Con’s (1)

  • Peer review is not naming and shaming: today’s reviewer will be reviewed tomorrow. All MS must hear the comments and recommandations by others.

  • The process is important, not just the book: through discussion with OECD staff, the authorities get a neutral and non-political view on their policies. Example: tuition fees for tertiary education.

  • Long term advice for short term policy makers.

  • Recommandations not mandatory: since the MS reviewed is free to implement the recommandations, the Secretariat (if followed by the Committee) is also free to make clear recommandations.

  • Quality: the level of expertise offered by the Secretariat needs to be matched in the capital. Statistics.


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Belgium’s experience with Peer ReviewsPro’s and Con’s (2)

  • Purpose is to help, not to fingerpoint. Avoid counterproductive results (example: the automatic indexation of wages)

  • Recommandations are based on theory, on expertise, on best practices, on shared experience. They are not based on national politics.

  • OECD recommandations represent a neutral view, from outside. They carry more weight than national recommandations.

  • Recommandations get more weigth through publication of the review.

  • Non members have also been reviewed: China, Chile, Argentina, Russia, … with positive results. For instance, the first Chinese review was concluded last year very successfully.


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Belgium’s experience with Peer Reviews

  • Conclusion:

  • Governments like the review processes by the OECD because it helps them to convince their public opinion when policy adjustments are necessary.

  • Thank you


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