As the corona virus pandemic continues to impact the operations and workforce of companies in Belgium, there are many questions about how to secure and protect the work and residence rights of foreign staff. The situation is fluid and government guidance does not exist for every scenario.
A little over a year ago Belgium implemented the EU Single Permit Directive for non-EU citizens seeking to work in Belgium for more than 90 days. The Single Permit, combining both work and residence authorization into one document issued through a single application procedure, represented an important step forward. However, substantial challenges continued to be faced by the business community due to lengthy procedures and lack of legal certainty.
Over 232 million people relocate annually to all corners of the globe, yet only a fraction receive professional support from relocation service providers. Millions of foreign assignees are left to find their own way around their new home country, with varying levels of success. The brand new platform Xpatris.com aims to help smooth their entry into Belgium by providing immediate access to the most essential information. We spoke with cofounder Salvatore Orlando to find out more.
Project Curant has come to an end. After three years, the last duos moved out at the end of October and the cohabitation project finished. From November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2019, 81 newcomers and 77 buddies had the opportunity to get to know themselves and other cultures up close. 37 couples stayed in an apartment with two or four bedrooms; six couples studied together in a student house on Antwerp’s Klapdorp; 16 couples were assigned a place in the brand new ‘BREM 16’ complex and 4 matched couples moved into homes that were already owned by the city of Antwerp. The aim of the project was to offer housing, education and a social safety net to newcomers who had a recognised refugee status or were entitled to subsidiary protection.
When I was first introduced to Izat, I was expecting to be faced with different cultural customs and habits. I had however not expected to live with someone for whom religion is such an important part of life. Call me naive, but I simply hadn’t considered it. Izat is an avid follower of Islam, but it took me a while to figure that out. Because we only talked about basic things such as housekeeping, school and work, I had no idea how important being faithful to his God was to him and how much that would end up influencing our living together.
I have never asked myself so many questions about the subject of relationships, as since I began living with Izat. Never before have I had so many problems expressing myself and explaining things to someone else when talk turns to the Belgian view on love and friendship. And to be honest, it’s the cause of a fair amount of frustration because our views on these themes are so vastly different.
Time is precious. For most of us probably so much so that it takes up a large amount of our lives. Making and planning our time for all sorts of things such as work, appointments, social occasions, ourselves and our partners, can be quite frankly, exhausting. Like no other people, the Flemish are masters at explaining why we really can’t meet for at least another three weeks because, well, our diaries simply won’t allow it.
We’d hoped January’s Brexit vote would finally deliver some clarity, but alas, nothing has changed. We find ourselves no closer to an answer than when ‘the people spoke’ back in the 2016 referendum. What is clear however, is that we need to prepare as best we can. As the withdrawal date of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU) is approaching, many companies are becoming increasingly worried about the impact this will have on their workforce and business in general.
In our fast-paced, ever-on society, people are struggling to cope more than ever before. We spend too much time glued to our screens and not enough with each other. Add to this the stress of moving to a new country and the ensuing culture shock, and it comes as little surprise that organisations like the Community Help Service, or CHS for short, are seeing a steady rise in requests for support. Offering a wide range of services, the non-profit organisation is a welcome resource for the English-speaking expatriate population of Belgium.
Our two largest cities, Brussels and Antwerp, are the only two Belgian cities to feature among Europe’s top 50 economic centres. Brussels is our major gateway for international finance, investment and institutions, while Antwerp is our major port city with specialisms in logistics, manufacturing, diamonds, retail and business services. Each have their own unique strengths, but how do they compete on a global scale? And what exactly is it that makes a city competitive?