Belgium. At the end of the year, Belgium took over the EU Presidency Club from Sweden. Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt indicated a wide range of areas to be prioritized. But already a little over a week in July came a setback, when a Belgian proposal on EU tax on income was almost laughed out at a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels.
During the fall, the presidency came in the cloud after the terrorist attack in the United States on September 11, which left the mark on most international relations. In Belgium, as in several other countries, suspected Islamists were arrested.
At the summit in Brussels suburb Laeken in December, Verhofstadt received a declaration that he himself has drawn up extensively, on the future of the EU. On several other issues prioritized by Belgium, however, no results were achieved. This included attempts to create common patent rules and the question of where a number of new EU authorities would be placed. Foreign Minister Louis Michel caused some resentment when he claimed during the summit that the EU countries agreed to send a joint force to Afghanistan. No such crisis management force existed within the Union.
In March, the worst train accident in Belgium occurred since 1974 when a freight train and a passenger train crashed a few miles outside Brussels. Eight people were killed and dozens were injured.
The Minister of the Interior of the regional government in Flanders, Johan Sauwens, resigned in May after it was revealed that he had attended a meeting with Belgian former SS officers.
In June, the House of Representatives adopted a constitutional change that strengthened the position of the regions. They got increased decision-making power regarding taxation and public spending, as well as greater influence over agriculture, foreign aid and trade.
- Abbreviationfinder: lists typical abbreviations and country overview of Belgium, including bordering countries, geography, history, politics, and economics.
Brussels is mentioned for the first time in the late 600-h. such as Bruocsella. The city originated on an island in the river Senne around a castle, as in 1000-t. moved up a ridge; soon after, both the new castle and the commercial square were surrounded by city walls. In the following centuries, Brussels became one of the most important cities in the Duchy of Brabant, because the Bruges-Cologne trade route passed through the city and because of the local manufacture of clothing and luxury goods. Then the Netherlands in the 1400’s. gathered, Brussels became a form of capital, and many nobles had homes here. That time was a highlight of political and artistic terms, and the city became internationally known for its pictorial weaving and lace. During the Dutch rebellion against Spain, Brussels was under Calvinist rule from 1578, but was conquered by the Spaniards in 1585. As the capital of the Spanish, later Austrian Netherlands, Brussels became several times in the 1600’s and 1700’s. conquered by the French. The city was the center of the Belgian Revolution in 1830 and became the capital of the new state of Belgium. Like the country, the city became wealthy in the 1800’s. and grew strongly. The city walls were replaced by boulevards and the city became the center of the new railway network.
During both World War 1 and World War II, the city was occupied by Germany, but no major destruction happened. Brussels lies north of the Franco-Dutch language border and was originally a Flemish-speaking city, but eventually gained a French-speaking majority. In 1932, the capital gained bilingual status, but the language problems did not cease; they have been a fiery political issue in local and national politics since 1960. However, the position of the European capital and the elevation in 1988 to one of Belgium’s three regions has given the city a new political dimension.
A football match at the city’s Heysel Stadium between Juventus and Liverpool FC in 1985 ended in a disaster due to English hooligans’ assault on Italian spectators. There were 39 killed and approximately 400 wounded. The stadium, which was remodeled into both the athletics and soccer arena, was reopened in 1995 as King Baudouin Stadium.
According to Countryaah, the population of Belgium in 2001 was 10,546,775, ranking number 75 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.510% yearly, and the population density was 348.3120 people per km2.