Belgium Country Report
Belgium is governed by a centre-right coalition of four parties, representing the country's major linguistic regions. This pragmatic political alliance under the leadership of liberal Prime Minister Charles Michel has recently experienced heightened levels of instability as a result of an intra-government dispute over a migration case that prompted the leader of the right-wing New Flemish Alliance to warn that his party may leave the government. Belgium faces a high risk of mainly low-capability terrorist attacks by radicalised lone actors who sympathise with non-state armed groups such as the Islamic State. Threats are also posed by small jihadist cells with links to other countries. These are likely to be formed in isolated communities such as the Brussels neighbourhood ofMolenbeek.
Belgium’s operational environment is generally attractive for international businesses. The country’s regulatory framework is stable and closely intertwined with European Union laws. Belgium is located between the EU’s political powerhouses, France and Germany; has access to the EU’s single market; and forms part of the Benelux union, providing well-established economic and political ties with neighbouring Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Belgium has a high-quality communications and infrastructure network and a broad array of transport links with other European countries. However, excessive red tape and strong trade unions are likely to slow down business operations.
Belgium faces a high risk of mostly low-capability terrorist attacks by self-radicalised Islamists acting alone or in small groups using firearms, knives, or crude IEDs and targeting public spaces, state or security force personnel, or Jewish assets. There is also a risk of further co-ordinated mass-casualty assaults such as the March 2016 Brussels attacks. These would likely require the participation of well-trained returning foreign fighters to succeed. There is a substantial presence of radicalised individuals in several largely isolated Muslim communities.
The risk of inter-state war on Belgian territory is likely to remain minimal. The country is an active member of NATO and the European Union and does not face any hostilities from neighbouring countries. Although the Belgian army participates in multilateral international military operations, the government usually focuses on soft diplomacy in external relations. However, Belgium supports the US-led international military alliance against the Islamic State, so the threat of retaliatory terrorist attacks in Belgium (as opposed to traditional warfare) has steadily increased since 2014.
Occasional anti-austerity and anti-government protests are possible in Antwerp, Brussels, and Liege. Although the majority of protests will be peaceful, there is a low risk of violent groups attacking police with blunt weapons or thrown objects. Repeated demonstrations in the centre of Brussels and especially near European Union assets (for example, the Berlaymont building) by interest groups affected by EU decisions are also common. These protests occasionally lead to minor confrontations with police. Occasional anti-immigration protests organised by the right-wing PEGIDA movement, particularly in Antwerp and other parts of the Flanders region in northern Belgium, are also likely.
Vaccines Required to Enter the Country
No vaccinations are required to enter the country.
Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
The quality of public transportation is generally high. However, transportation strikes are relatively common in Belgium and can occur with little notice.
Belgium has a temperate oceanic climate and rain is common throughout the year. Summers (June to September) are mild and winters are cool, even cold.
Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz