• Jean-Paul Votron and Gilbert Mittler

    Belgian banks reveal big bonuses

    7 Apr 2009 by
    Jean-Paul Votron, the former CEO of Fortis who resigned in disgrace after his bank’s share price collapsed, pocketed total pay and bonuses of €6.3 million in 2008, the company’s annual report has revealed. Public reaction to the news, not least among shareholders who lost their entire investment, has now led politicians to look for ways to curb the excesses of top businessmen rewarding themselves and their colleagues. Full story
  • Group housing schemes

    Shared lives

    7 Apr 2009 by
    Flanders is bursting at the seams. Its population density already stands at a chock-a-block 456 inhabitants per square kilometre. In other words, we are more squashed together than people in Japan (339 per sq km) or India (336 per sq km). Full story
  • Patati Patata

    No textbook needed

    31 Mar 2009 by
    “Every time I try to speak Dutch, they just switch to (insert any other language here).” For many who have tried their hand at learning a bit of the local language in Belgium, this scenario sounds all too familiar. Although ‘any other language’ is an exaggeration, it is meant as a ‘hats off’ to the incomparable language skills of most native Dutch speakers. What they don’t realise, though, while accommodating others by showing off their polyglottism, is that they are in fact discouraging people who might otherwise be willing to learn to speak Dutch with fluency.Full story
  • Flanders

    These routes are made for walking

    31 Mar 2009 by
    What comes to mind when you think of long-distance footpaths? The Pennine Way in England? El Camino de Santiago in Spain? France’s vast network of Grandes Randonnées?Full story
  • De Markten

    Nostalgia is the new black

    31 Mar 2009 by
    With global warming, jittery banks and pension funds threatening to collapse, you might wonder what a retired life will look like in the future. What will we do? What will we wear? Will chewing gum still be an option? Given the choice, rather than being miserable at home, why not head down to somewhere like De Markten in Brussels, where you can plunge into a genuinely feelgood retro dance event. Hell, why wait?Full story
  • Lange Wapper plan goes to referendum

    31 Mar 2009 by
    The Flemish government is to go ahead and make an application for planning permission to construct the much-discussed Lange Wapper viaduct in Antwerp. But a final decision on whether the plan will ever see the light of day will not be taken before October. Full story
  • PingPing

    Belgacom moves into payments by SMS

    31 Mar 2009 by
    Belgacom, the former state-owned telecommunications company, is to cooperate with Delhaize, Accor and Coca Cola to launch a new service allowing micro-payments by mobile phone. Belgacom last week announced it was taking a 40% stake in Tunz, a specialist in mobile payments. It has also launched its own brand, PingPing, which will allow subscribers on any mobile phone network to keep an account for mobile phone payments. Full story
  • Traditional or not?

    31 Mar 2009 by
    There seems to be no stopping Lijst Dedecker, the party of former judo coach Jean-Marie Dedecker that will take part in the regional elections for the first time in June. In a recent opinion poll, it comes out as the second largest party in Flanders, with more than 16% of the vote. Full story
  • News in Brief

    31 Mar 2009 by
    A man who was sacked from his job as a bus driver for De Lijn for drunk driving is back behind the wheel of a bus – driving for De Lijn. The man admitted drinking three litres of wine the evening before he was tested and found to be over the blood alcohol limit. He now works for a private bus company which carries out contracts for the public transport authority. A spokesman for De Lijn said he deserved a second chance. Full story
  • Artists bring ancient Roman curse on NATO

    31 Mar 2009 by
    Flemish artists, poets and musicians are involved in a bizarre conspiracy to protest at the existence of NATO while echoing the words of a Roman senator on the vanished city of Carthage. Last week’s Passa Porta literary festival in Brussels was the occasion for at least one performer to speak the single sentence: “Overigens, ben ik van mening dat de NAVO afgeschaft moet worden” (Furthermore, I am of the opinion that NATO must be abolished). Full story