STIB transported 401 million travellers in 2017

STIB transported 401 million travellers in 2017

The Brussels Intercommunal Transport Company, STIB, registered a total of 401 million travellers on its network in 2017, over 8% more than in the previous year. Last year’s tally was a new record and the strongest annual increase since 2003, the STIB disclosed in a press release on Friday. The company said the number of users had increased by more than 44% in 10 years, going from 277 million in 2007 to 401 million last year. The only exception to the constant annual progression was 2016, and this was due…

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European Commission proposes simplified VAT regime

European Commission proposes simplified VAT regime

The European Commission on Thursday announced a series of proposals aimed at giving member States greater flexibility in setting their value-added tax (VAT) rates, with certain conditions, and making life easier for small and medium sized businesses. Rather than a system based on exceptions, the Commission wishes to move on to a system of general rules applicable throughout the European Union (EU). “Today we are taking another step towards creating a single VAT area for Europe, with simpler rules for our Member States and companies,” said Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for…

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British MPs pass EU withdrawal bill

British MPs pass EU withdrawal bill

British MPs passed a government bill on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. This comes after a tumultuous journey in the House of Commons, which several times placed strain upon the Government, before the bill has even been considered by the House of Lords. The text, which was passed by 324 votes to 295, will enable the United Kingdom to continue on a “business as usual” basis after Brexit, scheduled for March 29th, 2019. It will be debated by the House of Lords from the end of January.

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EU must not help dictators spy on their own citizens

EU must not help dictators spy on their own citizens

Human rights may now be invoked to strengthen control over the export of Internet surveillance data from the European Union (EU). This possibility is included in rules on the export of dual-use goods – goods that can be used for both civilian and military applications – adopted on Wednesday by the European Parliament, with 571 votes for, 29 against and 29 abstentions. Technology enabling users to intercept and locate mobile phones, circumvent passwords or identify Internet users are covered by the new rules. “Authoritarian regimes too often use European technology…

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Passport fingerprints never checked

Passport fingerprints never checked

In its fight against identity theft, for eight years Belgium has included fingerprints for its citizens within a microchip on their passport. However, as Knack reports on Wednesday, nobody has ever been checked. The Spokesman and Head of Communication at the FPS Foreign Affairs, Didier Vanderhasselt, confirms, “For now, digital fingerprints on e-passports can only be read by the FPS Foreign Affairs.” They cannot therefore be checked at Brussels Airport in Zaventem, by foreign officials at European borders, or even by the Belgian communes, which issue these passports. However, Belgium…

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Prime Minister’s Office confirms energy pact for 2018

Prime Minister’s Office confirms energy pact for 2018

“There will be no postponing of arbitration in 2019,” the Office of Prime Minister Charles Michel said on Tuesday after the Standaard newspaper reported that the decision on phasing out Belgium’s nuclear plants could be postponed until after elections in 2019, as New Flemish Alliance (N-VA) leader Bart De Weever would like it to be. “The energy pact is, in fact, scheduled for 2018,” the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) said. “The discussions continue but we do not negotiate through the press. “A postponement would lead to legal insecurity…

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Between 200 and 250 taxis demonstrate in the streets of Brussels

Between 200 and 250 taxis demonstrate in the streets of Brussels

Between 200 to 250 taxis left from Place Poelaert in Brussels around 10.15 a.m. This was according to the General Secretary of the Federation of Belgian Taxis (“FEBET”), Sam Bouchal. They headed for the office of the Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region, Rudi Vervoort. The initiative, organised by the Front Commun (Mutual Front) of Brussels taxi drivers, had the symbolic appearance of a funeral procession. It started around 8.30 a.m. at Place Poelaert, where taxis were gathered at first. The procession carried a coffin to Mr Vervoort’s office (Rue Ducale)…

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Axel Witsel of Red Devils awarded best goal for 2017

Axel Witsel of Red Devils awarded best goal for 2017

Axel Witsel produced the best goal of 2017 for the Red Devils. This was announced yesterday by the Belgian Football Union. Witsel succeeded in a magnificent return in the match against Gibraltar (9-0), on August 31st, during the qualifications for the World Cup in 2018. Witsel’s goal was tremendously popular, voted for by 3,808 supporters. The second and third places go to two goals scored against Greece. On September 3rd, the strike from outside of the box produced by Jan Vertonghen in Athens (1-2) got 936 votes. On March 25th,…

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Explosion in Antwerp: Rescue services continue to look for victims

Explosion in Antwerp: Rescue services continue to look for victims

Rescue services continued searching for victims under the rubble of buildings destroyed by an explosion in the Paardenmarkt area in Antwerp that claimed two lives and injured at least 14 persons, one of them critically, on Monday night. The explosion damaged seven buildings. Three apartment blocks collapsed, seven persons were rescued from the rubble overnight while 22 persons had to spend the night in a shelter, a hotel or with relatives and friends. Emergency repairs were also being carried out on Tuesday on buildings damaged, but not destroyed, by the…

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ECB bank-crisis management needs improvement, EU auditors find

ECB bank-crisis management needs improvement, EU auditors find

European Central Bank should upgrade procedures handling bank crises by improving response to most urgent cases and streamline coordination with eurozone bank-failure authority, says European Court of Auditors. “The ECB’s operational framework for crisis management has some flaws, and there are signs of inefficient implementation,” the ECA said in a report published on Tuesday. The EU auditors made a series of recommendations with target dates for implementation stretching into next year. The ECB has accepted most of the recommendations, the auditors said. The ECA report suggests that the ECB “refused…

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