Belgium Country Report
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 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. In the second half of 2020, the risk of the government partially or locally reintroducing restrictions to contain a surge in COVID-19 cases will remain high.
Belgium faces an elevated 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. Co-ordinated mass-casualty assaults such as the March 2016 Brussels attacks 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. Belgium’s counter-terrorism agency OCAM maintains the terror threat level at 2 out of 4. OCAM head Paul Van Tigchelt stated in May 2020 that the risk of far-right attacks was equal to the risk of Islamist attacks.
Organised crime is mostly present in Brussels and Antwerp, but criminal groups also operate in other major urban areas. Criminal gangs often use Belgium as a crossroads at the centre of Europe, for instance for trafficking people and drugs to other destinations. Police have seized large quantities of cocaine smuggled from Brazil in the ports of Antwerp, Ghent, and Ostend between 2017 and 2019. In addition, there is also a risk of cross-border terrorist cells operating from the country. According to data released by Interior Minister Pieter De Crem in December 2019, knife-crime incidents increased to 657 in 2018, compared with 626 in 2017.
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 increased since 2014.
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