Belgium. The new millennium started well for Belgium. The Belgian economy, which for many years has lagged behind in the European Union, grew by almost 4% in 2000. Unemployment fell to 8.6%, which is below the EU average. During the year, the Rainbow Coalition, made up of liberals, environmentalists and socialists, presented bold programs on social reforms, tax cuts and administrative changes to keep the strong economic growth alive.
But Belgium would not be Belgium if there had not been any dark events every year. The dark event in 2000 was the municipal election on October 8, where the racist right-wing party Vlaams Blok had great success in several cities in Flanders. In Antwerp, Vlaams Blok received no less than 33% and in Ghent 20% of the votes.
The result in the municipal elections is in bad shape with the government’s hard line earlier in the year against Austria. Belgium was at the forefront of the EU boycotting Austria, since the xenophobic Freedom Party was part of the coalition government. Unlike in Austria, the democratic parties in Belgium have so far refused to compromise with the Vlaam Blok. The racist party is therefore not represented in either the government or any municipality.
However, the election reflects that racism is widespread in Belgium. According to the EU’s annual Eurobarometer opinion poll, published in the fall, 27% of Belgians believe the presence of another breed is “disruptive”. It is the highest figure in the EU. However, the government hopes that the reforms presented during the year will defeat the racist sentiments in the country.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of Belgium. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
“Tsunami” of covid fall
Bars and restaurants throughout Belgium will be closed for a month and a curfew will be imposed from midnight, in an attempt to halt the continuing spread of the coronavirus. Tightening of the restrictions earlier this month has not had the desired effect. The number of infections now amounts to just over 222,000, which means a doubling in one month. According to Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, Belgium is losing control of the corona infection, which is beginning to resemble a “tsunami”. The situation in Wallonia and Brussels is the worst from an infection point of view – and thus the most dangerous – in Europe, according to Vandenbroucke.
New coronary restrictions
Stricter rules are being reintroduced as the spread of the coronavirus has increased alarmingly. In Brussels, all cafes and bars are closed for a month, and alcohol consumption is prohibited in public places. In other parts of the country, bars must close at 11 pm. The number of people you may have close contact with outside your own household is reduced from five to three. At the same time, relief has recently been introduced in the very strict oral protection rules, despite the increasing infection. Belgium has now registered just over 132,000 cases of infection and just over 10,000 deaths in covid-19.
New government takes office
Belgium will have an ordinary government for the first time since December 2018 when a seven-party coalition takes office. The new Prime Minister will be the former Minister of Finance Alexander De Croo, who represents the Flemish Liberal Party Open VLD. The government also includes the Walloon Liberals, socialists and environmental parties from both language areas and the Flemish Christian Democratic Party. Flemish separatists have continued to protest that they are not part of the government.
The ex-king’s illegitimate daughter becomes a princess
The 52-year-old Delphine Boël is legally recognized as the princess and official daughter of the former King Albert, after an appellate court approved the results of a DNA test that was completed in January. The now 86-year-old Albert then admitted for the first time that he is the father of Boël, something he has persistently denied ever since she first claimed it publicly several decades ago. When Albert abdicated in 2013, she went to court, which resulted in Albert being sentenced to submit a DNA sample, for a fine of 5,000 euros per day if he refused. Boël’s mother has claimed that she had an affair with the then Prince Albert 1966–1984.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of Belgium in 2000 was 10,281,922, ranking number 76 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.190% yearly, and the population density was 339.5652 people per km2.