The week in brief: 20 March


Flemish author nominated for Man Booker Prize, damages to victims of terrorist attacks doubled, and the rest of the week's headlines

An overview of the week's news

Flemish author Stefan Hertmans has made the longlist of the UK’s Man Booker International Prize for the English version of his novel Oorlog en terpentijn (War and Turpentine). The prize is given annually to an author and translator of an English translation. Hertmans is the first Belgian author to be nominated for the prize, which launched in 2005 to complement the Man Booker Prize.

The renovation of metro stations De Brouckère and Beurs (pictured) in Brussels will not, as was announced previously, include shops and an information point for tourism agency Visit Brussels. Works begin in April on the two stations, which are adjacent on the central avenue in the centre, now a pedestrian zone. The stations will, however, house bicycle parking and repair shops.

The federal government has reached an agreement with insurance industry federation Assuralia to double damages paid to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Zaventem on 22 March last year. Victims and relatives of victims have complained about a lack of information from the authorities and from insurers.

Federal health minister Maggie De Block and the Pharmacists’ Association have agreed to a new accord governing family pharmacists. The agreement allows families to designate their pharmacist of choice as they can now do with their doctor. This will, according to the association, encourage people to use the same pharmacist and improve medication safety.

The Brussels Film Festival, which runs every June at Flagey and other venues in the capital, may have to be cancelled this year, organisers said, citing a loss of subsidies from both the Brussels government and the Walloon community worth a total of €170,000. Subsidies granted by the EU and Elsene municipality will not be enough to maintain operations, they said.

Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts is working on a new legal framework for taxi services, which would include both traditional taxis and newcomers such as Uber, Knack magazine reports. The new rules would distinguish between rank taxis, stationed at fixed pick-up points, and street taxis, which could be hailed en route. The plan is opposed by unions representing taxi drivers.

Renowned Antwerp jazz cafe Muze is to re-open, perhaps as early as the end of this week, according to former bartender Joris Vyt, who has reached an agreement with the owners of the property. The former café owner closed the long-running bar and club earlier this year, citing financial problems.  

According to the prosecutor-general, judge Karine Gérard, the president of the court of assizes in Brussels, was not assaulted in the street near the Justice Palace early last year and robbed of €60,000 in jewellery, as she had claimed. Gérard is one of the country’s most prominent judicial figures, having presided over 80 jury trials. She had reported being mugged by three men and had bruises on her face, though the lack of witnesses and security camera footage as well as doubts as to the amount of jewellery in question led to an investigation. The case will now pass to the Cassation Court for a ruling on charges of fraud and making false statements.

Brussels hip-hop star Stromae has launched a fashion line under the label Mosaert (an anagram of his stage name, which is itself an anagram of maestro). The line was designed by the artist, whose sense of style is as famous as his music, and by his wife, Coralie Barbier, a fashion stylist. The designs will feature Stromae’s signature colourful shirts and socks.

Five people in Belgium’s road haulage industry have been charged with social dumping, the federal prosecutor has announced. They are accused iof using shell companies set up in Slovakia to avoid paying social security charges in Belgium, creating unfair competition. Companies in France, the Netherlands and Portugal have also been implicated in the system.

The Brussels-based consortium 12-12, made up of charity and NGO organisations, including Oxfam, Unicef and Doctors of the World, has launched a campaign to fight famine in Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, in what has been described as the worst food crisis since the end of the Second World War. At least 20 million people are undernourished, many facing death. Donations can be made to BE19 0000 0000 1212.

The Nike distribution centre in Ham, Limburg, has won the Mipim architectural award for Best Industrial and Logistics Development. Brussels architects Jaspers-Eyers, the Dutch design and consultancy concern Arcadis and Leuven planning bureau Pauwels are responsible for the sustainable 40,000 square-metre building. The annual Mipim in Cannes is Europe’s most prestigious award for commercial developments.

Three terrorists involved in the suicide bombings at Brussels Airport and Maalbeek metro station signed a contract one month prior to the attacks with energy provider Lampiris in the name of Olympic swimming medallist Pieter Timmers. The information was retrieved from a laptop found in the Schaarbeek house. Timmers and his partner, Elle De Leeuw, have been threatened with legal action for non-payment of the bill, De Leeuw revealed on social media.