#Brussels – More international than Belgian?

| December 18, 2018

Starting this week and throughout 2019, TV5 Monde, the international French television station, will be broadcasting a reportage about Brussels, designed to understand if the city is more international than Belgian, writes Martin Banks.

The aim is to highlight the unique international character of Belgium’s capital.

The reportage premiered on 17 December and will continue to be broadcasted in Europe and, later on, 4 other continents will follow.

While being broadcasted during 36 months, the reportage will reach an audience of 21 million people all over the world.

“Brussels is a complex city. In 2017, our city gathered 179 different nationalities.  414,139 foreigners out of a total population of 1,191,604 people. More than one out of three inhabitants are not Belgian. We wanted to understand how these different communities co-exist,” explained António Buscardini, the experienced journalist and author of the reportage.

One of the driving forces behind the reportage is BNP Paribas Fortis, represented by Salvatore Orlando, an Italian expat who is in charge of the expat services with the bank.

Orlando said: “Expats play a critical role in Brussels. I know that being an expat in a new country can be difficult. That’s why we conducted an unique campaign, in 17 languages, to welcome them under the slogan ‘In a changing world, expats feel at home right at away’ .

“This reportage gives a clear overview of what the expat life truly looks like in Brussels.”

Various people and organizations contributed to the reportage, including Huawei Brussels, WeLoveBrussels, Ginette Bar, Vote Brussels, the Commune of Ixelles, through its new Bourgmestre Christos Doulkeridis.

“Ixelles is emblematic of Brussels’ spirit. We are a commune that welcomes more than 100 nationalities from all backgrounds. For me, Ixelles is the ghetto of nobody. Everybody feels welcomed here,”  said Ixelles’ new Bourgmestre.

Vote Brussels played an important role in convincing non-Belgians to engage in local politics. Last October 14, 2018 they managed to convince thousands of expats to vote for the first time in the communal elections.

“Myths around elections persist and dissuade people from registering.

“According to 2013 and 2018 online surveys, the low registration rate is mainly due to the fact that non-Belgians do not receive the correct information in time. And that’s what we tried to change by raising awareness and fighting the myths that prevented non-Belgians from voting,” stressed Thomas Huddleston, Coordinator of Vote Brussels.


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