Christmas tree set up in Brussels Grand Place

Christmas tree set up in Brussels Grand Place

On Friday morning, the Brussels Grand Place welcomed the spruce which was felled the day before in the Eupen region. The Christmas tree, with a height of 22 metres is due to be decorated and then incorporated into the path of light of the Winter Joys. The tree, coming from the public forest of Hertogenwald, arrived around 6 a.m. It has been offered by Wallonia and comes from a sustainable forest (certified under the global PEFC forest management certification system). The Christmas tree will be decorated on Sunday, with garlands…

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Pressure from civil society on better air quality in Brussels

Pressure from civil society on better air quality in Brussels

Brussels Minister of Mobility Pascal Smet welcomed on Monday the call of a hundred doctors to raise the poor quality of the air in Brussels that generates health risks. “These doctors are more than right and we are pleased with this pressure from civil society. We need it since it strengthens us in the policy that we want to lead,” he said. The minister argues that 5.2 billion euros should be invested in the coming years, particularly in the reinforcement of public transport, and that 80 kilometers of separate cycle…

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Belgium has poor Internet connection compared to neighbours

Belgium has poor Internet connection compared to neighbours

Belgium is a country with poor Internet connections compared to its neighbours. This is per a UN ranking on countries’ Internet connection ranked from best to worst. In the 2017 ranking, Belgium is in 25th place. The Netherlands are 7th, Luxembourg 9th, Germany 12th and France 15th. Luxembourg has remained stable, other countries have advanced positions and Belgium has fallen two places. The ITU Development Index is based upon the number of landline and mobile telephone contracts, the number of Internet users and other indicators, such as the level of…

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Puigdemont’s Defence team set to play the “political trial” card

Puigdemont’s Defence team set to play the “political trial” card

The Defence Team for Carles Puigdemont and the four other Catalan ministers “in exile” in Belgium will wholeheartedly play the “political trial” card. They will do so on Friday when they appear before the court in chambers. The court is due to rule upon the execution of the European Arrest Warrant issued against them by Madrid. The lawyers, Michelle Hirsch and Christophe Marchand, who represent the two ex-ministers Toni Comin and Meritxell Serret, explained this to Le Soir and De Standaard yesterday. The Defence Team for the five former Catalan…

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Nearly 300 fines per day for GSM use at wheel

Nearly 300 fines per day for GSM use at wheel

In 2016, a total of 108,500 fines were issued for GSM use at the wheel. This corresponds to an average of nearly 300 offences observed per day. This emerges from the figures communicated by the Minister for the Interior, Jan Jambon (New Flemish Alliance). This came in response to a parliamentary question by the Flemish Christian Democrats deputy, Jef Van den Bergh. More than half of these fines (58,012) targeted car drivers, and approximately a quarter (25,442) van drivers. Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) were targeted on some 7,025 occasions, and…

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European ministers validate sanctions against Venezuela

European ministers validate sanctions against Venezuela

On Monday, European foreign affairs ministers validated a series of sanctions against Venezuela. Meeting as the European Council on Foreign Relations, they indicated that these include a weapons embargo. The ministers, meeting in Brussels, are particularly concerned about the “political polarisation” which has been increasing within South American countries and the implementation of the Constituent Assembly. They dispute both the legitimacy of the latter and the nature of its representation. It emerges from conclusions adopted by the ministers, “In this context, in addition to its political and diplomatic efforts to…

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Agreement on contemporary art museum in Brussels meets opposition by N-VA

Agreement on contemporary art museum in Brussels meets opposition by N-VA

Flemish Minister of Brussels Affairs Sven Gatz (Open Vld) agrees with his Francophone counterpart Rachid Madrane (PS) to grant an annual subsidy for three years to support temporary events on the site of the future Brussels museum for contemporary art. The museum is under development in the former Citroën Yser garage. Flemish deputy Karl Vanlouwe (N-VA) however said Wednesday that his party opposed the intentions of the liberal Flemish minister. The Brussels Region acquired the Citroën Yser site to develop a cultural center dedicated to contemporary art. The museum project…

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COP23: Belgium may miss 2020 climate targets

COP23: Belgium may miss 2020 climate targets

The European Union overall is on track to reduce its target of 20% reduction in greenhouse gases (“GHG”) by 2020. However this is certainly not due to the Belgian contribution. This is observed in a report published by the European Commission on Tuesday. Belgium, which regarding these targets, is in the same position as Malta, Finland and Ireland, is not able to achieve its objectives for non-industrial emissions. The report stresses that the GHG emissions do not account for those within the EU’s European Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), or non-industrial…

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Brussels metro interrupted between Arts-Loi and Élisabeth this weekend

Brussels metro interrupted between Arts-Loi and Élisabeth this weekend

STIB (responsible for Brussels public transport) has indicated this morning that no metro trains will run between the stations Arts-Loi and Élisabeth, in both directions, this weekend in Brussels. This is owing to work due to take place at the Rogier station. The Brussels public transport company must replace worn-out points between the stations Yser and Rogier, on November 11th and 12th. STIB stated, “During these works, the operation of metro trains on lines 2 and 6 will be interrupted between the Arts-Loi and Élisabeth stations in both directions, and…

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Approximately 600,000 Belgians insured for “unaffordable” dental care

Approximately 600,000 Belgians insured for “unaffordable” dental care

Around 600,000 Belgians have taken out supplementary insurance for fear of future high dentistry bills. Het Nieuwsblad, Het Belang van Limburg and De Standaard are on Tuesday stating that the number insured for such care is rapidly increasing. These findings come after they questioned the three principal mutual insurance companies in Belgium. You do not need to look far for an explanation for this. This is the view of the Flemish professional body for dentists. A spokesman from the organisation stated, “The government has not invested enough for years in…

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