Newspapers in Belgium
Media development in Belgium takes place within each language area
individually and there is therefore no national media. Interest in media from
neighboring countries is greater than between the linguistic regions of Belgium.
The 1831 Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press
and prior censorship is prohibited. A 1963 law gives journalists with an
official press card certain privileges, including the right to access public
places in many cases even if the authorities have blocked them.
Over 80% of the population has access to the internet and global sites such
as Facebook and Google are the most visited. No domestic media company is
included in the top ten list.
There are three mobile operators with their own network. The largest is
Belgacom Mobile, where the state is majority owner, followed by French Mobistar
and Dutch Base. In addition, there are about twenty virtual operators.
Belgium has three separate public service companies responsible for the
state-controlled radio and television broadcasts. They are divided into the
language areas and consist of French-speaking RTBF, Flemish VRT and
Commercial radio and TV were gradually allowed in the various language areas
during the 1980s and almost all households have access to cable TV.
Newspaper consumption is low compared to neighboring countries and since the
1950s the proportion of titles has been halved. A majority of the newspapers
have a pronounced political color or affiliation with some organization. The
largest among the newspapers are Flemish liberal Het Laatste Nieuws with an
edition of about 280,000 copies. (2012). Other major Flemish newspapers are the
independent quality magazine De Standard and the more popular Het Nieuwsblad.
The largest among the French speakers is the independent quality magazine Le
Soir. Other major newspapers in Wallonia are Vers l'Avenir with its nine
regional editions as well as right-wing La Dernière Heure. There is a single
newspaper in German, the Christian Grenz-Echo, which addresses the 100,000
German-speakers in the country's east. There is also a Belgian version of the
free Metro Metro published in French and Dutch.
Belgium has since become an old meeting place
for Latin and Germanic cultures, and Brussels as the
European capital has become an international cultural
center. The city is famous both as a film city and as
the center for instrumental music.
Several Late Medieval Flemish painters belong to the
great names of European art history, such as Bruegel,
Rubens, van Dyck and van Eyck. Among famous Belgian
artists of modern times are the Surrealists René
Magritte and Paul Delvaux. Victor Horta is regarded as
an architectural innovator. In the arts, Belgium has
become known for its richly varied lace art. The
celebration of gala parties with magnificent costume
parades is an important part of popular culture.
Latest population statistics of Belgium, including religious profiles and major languages spoken as well as population growth rates in next three decades.
Belgian literature is divided along the language
boundary: Walloon writers are counted in French
literature and Flemish writers are Dutch. Perhaps the
foremost writer of the 20th century was Hugo Claus.
There have been speculations for a long time that he
would be the first Nobel laureate to write in Flemish,
but he died in 2008 without receiving the literature
award. Maurice Maeterlinck, who wrote in French,
received the 1911 Nobel Prize.
Another noted 20th-century writer was the prolific
Georges Simenon, known not least as Commissioner
Maigret's creator. Mention should also be made of the
cartoon character Tintin's creator Hergé (pseudonym of
Georges Remi). Several other well-known cartoon
characters originate in Belgium: Spirou, Gaston,
Smurfarna and Lucky Luke.
Two Belgian children's book authors have been awarded
the Swedish Alma Award for Astrid Lindgren's memory:
Kitty Crowther 2010 and Bart Moeyaert in 2019.
In the music you can see the singer and composer
Jacques Brel. For Belgium public policy, please check
The brothers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne are among
the country's foremost filmmakers. They have won the
Gold Palm for best film at the Cannes Film Festival
twice: for Rosetta in 1999 and the Child in
2005. They also shared the jury's grand prize in Cannes
2011, for the Boy with the bike and they
received with Two days, one night the Swedish
Goldbag for best foreign film 2014.
Wallonia close to stop EU trade agreement
Prime Minister Charles Michel states that the Belgian parliaments have
reached a compromise on a trade agreement with Canada (Ceta), which can thus be
signed (and enter into force in 2017). Three days earlier, the Walloon
Parliament has set a bar for Ceta, which the EU and Canada agreed after several
years of negotiations. All other EU governments have approved the agreement, but
the Belgian approval is dependent on all regions joining the train. The Wallons
have expressed concern that Ceta will enable companies to sue states that thus
make it more difficult to maintain protection for people and the environment. In
the end, Prime Minister Michel stated that Belgium cannot write on Ceta - but
now the obstacle is overcome.
Attack on police officers
Three police officers are injured in Brussels in what is suspected to be a
terrorist act. Two of them are stabbed and a third gets their noses cracked. The
perpetrator is shot in the leg and arrested. The incident occurs shortly after a
major railway station was evacuated due to a bomb threat. The security situation
remains tense in the country.
First euthanasia for minors
A 17-year-old becomes the first incapacitated person in Belgium to be helped
to die since the law was changed (see February 2014). The teenager had a fatal
illness and is said to have suffered "unbearable physical pain". For euthanasia
to be relevant, the patient must be in the final stages of a fatal illness and
be able to make rational decisions himself. For minors, parents must also
approve the decision.
Tighter monitoring at nuclear power plants
A special anti-terrorist unit will be stationed at the two nuclear power
plants in the country from the beginning of 2017. The unit will consist of over
1,600 armed police. The surveillance has already intensified following the
terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.
IS takes on machete attack
The Islamist terrorist group IS states that a paperless Algerian who injured
two female police officers with a jungle knife was an "IS soldier". The
33-year-old man was shot dead by police in connection with the attack in
Charleroi. IS has urged supporters to carry out attacks in countries that are
part of the US-led alliance that bombs terrorist positions in Syria and Iraq.
The Netherlands wants nuclear power plants to be closed
Parliament in the Netherlands adopts a resolution calling on neighboring
Belgium to close the country's aging nuclear reactors (see also April
2016). The reactors have repeatedly been shut down due to safety
Protest against changes in labor law
24th of May
Around 60,000 people take part in a demonstration in Brussels against the
government's reform of labor law, organized by the three major central
organizations (see Labor Market). The mass meeting is meant to be the prelude to
a series of ongoing demonstrations and one-day strikes. Among other things, the
government has proposed that employers be given the right to introduce 45 hours
of work week. Ten people are injured in clashes between police and a smaller
group of masked protesters.
Strike strikes hard at prisons
The conditions in 17 prisons are becoming more and more difficult due to a
prisoner strike that has started on the third week. Many interns sit locked
around the clock and receive no fresh air, no outside visits and no clean
bedding. Violence has erupted on several occasions. The army has been called in
to help, a decision that in itself is controversial. The strike applies to
prisons in Wallonia and Brussels, where conditions are worse than in Flanders.
The congestion is large, with an average of 129 prisoners in 100 places.
German concern about nuclear safety
German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks has asked Belgium to
temporarily shut down the 40-year-old nuclear power reactors Doel 3 and Tihange
2, located less than 15 km from the German border, and investigate whether they
meet the safety criteria. The Netherlands has also questioned the security of
Doel, which is close to the city of Antwerp. The Belgian government responds
that the nuclear power plants meet the safety requirements and that they will
not be closed.
The Minister of Transport is replaced
After criticizing the lack of security at the airport Zaventem, Jacqueline
Galant leaves (see also March 2016). A few days later, François
Bellot takes up the position as new Minister of Transport.
Several terror suspects arrested
Police arrest several men in Brussels, including Mohamed Abrini, who is said
to be the fourth bomber captured on surveillance cameras in connection with the
March 22 terrorist attack. Another is 23-year-old Swede Osama Krayem.
Criticism of terrorism
In the aftermath of the attacks in Brussels earlier this month, more and more
criticism is directed at the police and the political leadership. A special
committee is set up to investigate why no one reacted to a warning from Turkey
in the summer of 2015. The warning concerned a potential terrorist, who became
one of the assailants in Brussels. The police have been forced to release the
only person arrested on suspicion of direct involvement in the attack. However,
a number of other terror suspects have been arrested in raids around the
country, but the police are being criticized for their handling in several
respects. Both Minister of Justice Koen Geens (CD&V) and Interior Minister Jan
Jambon (N-VA) have offered to resign, but Prime Minister Charles Michel has
asked them to remain.
Terrorist acts shake Brussels
A total of 35 people are killed, including three suicide bombers, and over
300 are injured when explosions shake the Belgian capital every few hours. Two
explosions occur at the capital's airport Zaventem and one at a metro station.
The airport and the entire subway network are closed down. IS takes on the
death. The airport does not open again until eleven days later.
Highest alarm readiness again
Interior Minister Jan Jambon says that the highest level of terrorist threat
is introduced because of the risk of revenge attacks, three days after Salah
Abdeslam was arrested.
Terrorist suspects are arrested in Molenbeek
Police seize Salah Abdeslam, who was hunted after the terrorist attack in
Paris and called the most wanted person in Europe (see November 2015). In April,
he is secretly extradited to France, where he is eventually sentenced to 20
years in prison. Three days before the arrest, police have shot dead a man in
connection with an assault on an apartment on the outskirts of Brussels, in the
pursuit of Abdeslam. Four police officers were injured in the incident and a
couple of perpetrators are believed to have escaped. In total, 20 people have
been arrested in Belgium since the Paris attack.
Border controls against France
Belgium decides to place up to 290 police officers at border crossings, out
of concern for large migrant flows if France makes serious plans to empty the
"jungle" refugee camp in Calais, at the Channel Tunnel to the UK. Several other
EU countries have also introduced border controls, which exempt the passport
freedom in the Schengen area.
Suicide bomber identified
DNA analysis shows that a 25-year-old Belgian-Moroccan man blew himself up in
connection with the French police strike in Saint-Denis (see November
18, 2015). He died along with Abelhamid Abaaoud and a woman believed to
have been Abaaoud's cousin and who was first identified as the suicide bomber.
EU requirements for new tax settlements
The EU Commission orders Belgium to review tax settlements with 35
multinational companies, as these are considered to have received illegal
benefits. The companies are expected to have to pay another € 700 million in