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Category Archives: Brussels
So finally, after seven months in office British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is to visit the European Institutions for the first time… well, it is about time!
OK, here are some rumours straight from Brussels:
Apparently Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for information society and media, has quite an impressive self-promotional strategy. Of course she is a very important Commissioner who has a very busy schedule; no doubt she is in charge of a very important portfolio and has achieved quite a lot! She has been a member of the European Commission since 1999 (!) … yes .. indeed she is a VIP! (And I don’t know whether she is considering a third term…)
But being a VIP is difficult and to work with them is even more problematic! So how to deal with VIPs? If you are organizing a conference, seminar or something similar and you want her to speak at this event, make sure that you invite other VIPs preferably ministers, other (also former!) Commissioners, well known MEPs, and CEOs that run global enterprises …. oh yeah and don’t make the mistake to invite anyone who might oppose Reding’s policies! It is obvious that Ms Reding does not want to sit on a panel with people that are “only” important but lack the “V”(incl. specialized staff, mangers, scientists, advisers…let alone citizens)! If you have doubts whether somebody is acceptable as a panelist I am sure her cabinet can help you! By following these rules it is very likely that Ms Reding will eventually speak at your event!
Somehow not a very convincing communication approach! But rumours are not facts.
As we all know, Belgium is a shopping paradise where you can shop 24/7 (some irony included). The good news is that winter sales have started today; and the third day of the year is reserved for this local tradition (sounds better than: ‘It is strictly forbidden to advertise any sales before’)!
Anyway, many shops prepared for this special event in a rather surprising way: shops closed yesterday around 4.30 pm (!) in order to prepare the sales. Of course this is rather annoying for the customers, but since this is Belgium we should not be surprised… and this is only the tip of the iceberg! To get the full picture about sales and competition principles in Belgium read this excellent article in The Economist:
During the twice-yearly pre-sales blackouts (there are also summer sales) a hundred inspectors from the Belgian economics ministry scour the country for advertisements, window stickers or price tags that even hint at discounts. A Prohibition-style speakeasy culture has sprung up in response. Gambits include putting question-marks on price tags and advertising “friendly prices”. Chic boutiques in Brussels telephone favoured customers or send them “privilege cards”, inviting them to pop in for an early visit. Controls must be “extremely severe” to ensure that the rules stick, explains Robert Geurts of the economics ministry, who glories in the title of director-general for regulation and organisation of the market. Inspectors receive many tips by telephone as rival shopkeepers denounce each other.
If all this sounds fundamentally illiberal, that is because it is.
Today was a special day for my troubled relationship with Belgium. Belgium surprised me today, or more precisely the infamous national train company NMBS/SNCB did.
Around four weeks ago I was in Strasbourg. But the train strike in France forced me to make a detour through Germany. Consequently I could not use the train ticket (Strasbourg-Luxembourg-Brussels) I had bought before the trip.
So, a few days later I went to the train station, explained my little problem to some very friendly (!!) NMBS/SNCB employees, who gave me a rather short (!!) form to fill in. Three (!!) working days later I received a letter that stated that I would get reimbursed! And today, the money really arrived on my bank account!
It is actually amazing for a country that is normally known for its inefficiency and its notorious bureaucratic system.
The summer break is over. Slowly, the Brussels xpat crowd is coming back from holiday.
I just started deleting blog spam….it is incredible what kind of spam you get these days! It used to be only the obvious things about different medications and various operations, as well as dating opportunities…but now they started making compliments:
- informative post, keep it up.
- dude cool site i like it very much.
- revolutionary. breathtaking. awesome post dude.
- Excellent forum with fantastic references and reading…. well done indeed…
- great site, nice design.
- nice choice of colors.
and my favorite:
- your blog is so important. you are the new media
That should give me indeed enough motivation to go on with my blogging 😉
In case you just returned from your holidays in a remote area without newspapers and Internet connection, you might be interested in what happened during the summer. Here is the ultimate (but incomplete) list of important things you missed:
3. Still no government in Belgium! Even summer was cancelled in Brussels this year.
In the euroblogosphere two (among many others I have not yet discovered) very interesting new blogs appeared: Brussels Comment and The European Parliament (that wants to find out what Europe has ever done for us).
Bad news for the German speaking blogosphere: The best political blog has decided to call it a day! Good bye Kosmoblog! We will miss you!