Sunday, 9 January 2011

Youth Unemployment in Brussels

According to recent statistics, youth unemployment in the Brussels region is at a staggering 35%. That takes some doing, so well done chaps!

In fact, the figures may not accurately reflect the true situation, as working on the black market is absolutely normal. Indeed, most Belgian families will be reliant to a certain degree on the black money that one or more members will be bringing in.

The social costs of employing people, especially part-time workers, is horrific in Belgium, so many businesses simply do not do it. They can't afford to.

The costs of setting up a small business in Belgium are equally daunting, as is the associated paperwork. Taxes are high, VAT thresholds are low, and so again, many people simply do not bother. A lot of Belgians of my aquaintance set up their businesses in the UK - it works for them, and it puts a little extra money into the UK economy, so I am all for that ruse.

One would have thought that the Belgians would be worried about all this - after all, their national deficit is now around 100% of GDP, which technically makes them a bankrupt nation. The roads are falling apart, and the cities are seething with ethnic tensions.

But they don't seem to care at all.

The Brussels region floats on a sea of subsidies. It is kept afloat by the transnational institutions that attract so much cash from across the world. But there is some bad news for the Belgians.... NATO is upping sticks and moving out.

NATO headquarters are moving to Bonn, which makes absolute sense as the focus of the alliance is shifting eastwards.

This hasn't broken in the Belgian press yet, but I expect it will shortly as it is common knowledge amongst journalists.

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