Brussels, here Magnificence, Culture, and Cleverness assemble together
Brussels is located in central Belgium and is the country’s constitutional capital city. Over 2.5 million people inhabit the metropolitan area of Brussels, which spans a total of 161 square kilometers, making it the largest city in Belgium. Belgium is a landlocked country and shares its borders with Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, with a small area of coastline facing the North Sea.
Brussels is the political capital of Belgium, with the governing system being a constitutional monarchy. It is also the de facto capital city of the European Union, of which it is a founding member. Brussels is divided into 29 sub-districts, each with separate councils to govern more minor issues within each area. It adopted the euro (EUR) as its currency in 1999, replacing the Belgian franc (BEF).
Brussels is Belgium’s leading economic and commercial center, with most of its GDP and 88% of all jobs generated by the service sector. The financial sector is booming in Brussels, with numerous prestigious companies choosing to have headquarters within the city, such as Swift and BNP Paribus Fortis. There is an estimated total number of 54,000 businesses in the city, of which only 2,200 are foreign.
The industry also plays a part in the Brussels economy, with 27 purpose-built industrial zones away from the city center but close to transportation links such as the highways or the Brussels canal. Major exports include automobiles (which account for 45% of all total exports from the city) and chemicals, machinery, and electronics. 89% of the total exports are to other European countries, 11% to Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
The Brussels region accounts for 9% of the total exported goods from Belgium. The Belgian economy was affected by COVID-19. For instance, the revenue loss in the tourism industry in Flanders and the Brussels-Capital Region was estimated at 1.7 billion euros in 2020. During that year, the Belgium government balance as a share of GDP decreased by 11 percent, while the GDP per capita went down by 0.4 percent. From a regional perspective, Flander’s GDP is expected to decrease by 11.1 percent in 2020, while the GDP of Wallonia is predicted to fall by 10.3 percent.
Brussels has become a central hub for business trade fairs and exhibitions, partly due to its central European location and many conference facilities available. Brussels has flexible laws regarding testing new medications and has become a center for medical trials.
Numerous well-designed and efficient transportation links throughout Brussels make it easily accessible from most other European countries. The area is serviced by Brussels Airport (BRU), located 11km northeast of the city center. Over 26 million people pass through the airport in 2019, making it the 24th busiest airport in Europe. There is also a large cargo terminal (Brucargo) where 18 airlines transport a combined total of 780,000 tons of freight a year (2020). Low-cost airlines such as Ryan Air and Easy Jet fly to Brussels second, and smaller airports, known as ‘Brussels South Charleroi Airport, located 40km outside the city center.
Brussels Midi train station is the busiest in Belgium, with all Eurostar trains arriving and departing from this station. High-speed trains link to London St.Pancreas and take just 1hour 50min, with up to 10 services a day. Other destinations serviced by Eurostar include Amsterdam and Paris. Germany can also be accessed from Brussels via the high-speed ICE and Thalys train services. A comprehensive public transportation system operates with a metro station, frequent and punctual bus services, and a tram network, making it easy to travel around in Brussels. There is also a network of well-maintained highways linking Brussels to other cities in Belgium and all of its neighboring countries.
Brussels is dedicated to lowering its carbon emissions and developing a more economically friendly city. It has invested in sustainable energy programmers, including off-shore wind turbines.
The workforce in Brussels is highly educated, with over 32% of all employees holding a higher education degree. An estimated 30% of the workforce hold foreign passports, although Belgium does not collect data on the ethnic backgrounds of its inhabitants, so the exact figure is unknown. It is common for a Belgian to be bi-lingual within French and Dutch being the two main languages required by the police force. The English language is taught in secondary schools, and it is used in many businesses as the primary language. In immigrant neighborhoods, foreign languages such as Turkish and Arabic are spoken.
There are several private and public education centers within Brussels, the largest being the French-speaking Université Libre de Bruxelles, attended by over 20,000 students. The government funds several research facilities. Brussels has been scrutinized as having an educational system that discriminates and segregates ethnic minorities.
Despite the structured and efficient education system, in 2020, unemployment increased 3.5% there. By comparison, in the Brussels-Capital Region, the percentage of individuals without a job was about four times as high, at 12.4%. There is a notable divide between the rich and the poor, with immigrants reporting problems finding work, which is mainly put down to language barriers, but discrimination in Belgium may be a contributing factor.
Brussel Business Costs
Belgium’s corporate tax rate is fixed at 25%, with a 3% ‘crises surcharge’ added to that figure, making the total amount 28.99%. Individual tax rates are based on a progressive pay scale ranging from 25% to 50% of total income earned (where the lower tax is set for an annual income between 0 to €13,250). Standard VAT rates are 21%, with discounts available for some essential items. There are several tax exemption rules, including discounts for managers in specific industries and lowered tax rates for those working within research facilities.
Belgium has a minimum wage rate of €1,466 a month for employees ages 23, which is double the minimum wage for countries such as Spain, Malta, and Portugal.