Belgium Culture

Belgium Culture and Mass Media

Newspapers in Belgium

According to FRANCISCOGARDENING.COM, Belgium is a country located in Europe. 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 German-speaking BRF.

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.


According to APARENTINGBLOG, 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.

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.

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

October 27th

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

October 5

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

September 17th

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

September 9th

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

August 6th

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

7 June

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 concerns.


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

May 11

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

April 22

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

April 15

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

April 8

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

March 29th

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

March 22

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

21 March

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

March 18th

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

February 23

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

January 14

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

January 11

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 tax.

Belgium Culture

About the author