Monday, 10 December 2018 18:14

Belgium placed fourth in European cycling

Belgium placed fourth in the European Cycling Union rankings for the 2018 season with 486 points, behind France (1st, 537 pts), the Netherlands (2nd, 512 pts) and Czech Republic (3rd, 487).
A "Happy Train" with three carriages, specially decorated for winter and the Christmas/New Year holidays, will run from Monday until January 6 on the Belgian railway network, the SNCB announced.
On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty International published on Monday a report on the state of human rights in 2018. It reveals that fundamental rights are under pressure in Europe, and that Belgium is not immune to criticism from NGOs. According to Amnesty, "the Belgian government falls short on human rights."

Amnesty International targets first the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia. This country is still "the Walloon region’s first customer, which continues to flout its international obligations, and (...) risks being an accomplice to war crimes in Yemen," the Director of Amnesty’s Belgian French-speaking section, Philip Hesmans, complains.

The NGO is also aiming at the Federal Government’s immigration policy, and in particular its decision to lock up adults and children in a detention center. "It is intolerable that our country has returned to this shameful practice, contrary to the best interests of children," Mr. Hesmans protested. "It is also unacceptable that people are forced to sleep on the street because of the limitation of the daily number of asylum applications, and because commitments to the resettlement of refugees have been suspended."

Amnesty also regrets the whole saga around the UN’s Global Migration Pact, seeing that it "is an important step in the establishment of an international framework for migration."

Furthermore, custody conditions are singled out, "remaining very poor, and made worse by prison staff strikes."

The NGO asks Belgium to improve its track record, and to be "irreproachable" as it will sit on the United Nations Security Council for two years starting in January.

The Brussels Times
Monday, 10 December 2018 17:16

Asbestos traces in two SNCB trains

Traces of asbestos have recently been detected in a closed technical space aboard two out of twenty examined trains of the "Sprinter" type series stock, put into service between 1986 and 1989, SNCB said Sunday.
The United Kingdom can decide on its own to reverse its withdrawal from the European Union, without needing the approval of the other member States, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) said in a ruling handed down on Monday.
Belgium is still a “medium-performing” country in the fight against climate change even if it has moved up by one point, according to the Climate Change Performance Index 2019, compiled by environmental NGOs and published on Monday on the occasion of COP24 in Katowice, Poland.
About 30 persons demonstrated on Monday outside the Albert Borschette Conference Centre in Brussels’ European Quarter as representatives of EU member States met for a first series of votes on proposals to oblige companies to manufacture household appliances that are easy to repair and more durable.
Brussels Airlines is among the most polluting airlines in a ranking made by the German environmental association Atmosfair, De Standaard and Het Nieuwsblad reported Monday.
"The planned actions will have all the more meaning," the FGTB President Robert Vertenueil responded Monday morning about the new federal coalition.
Monday, 10 December 2018 16:15

Nearly one million SMEs in Belgium in 2017

In 2017, Belgium had 940,440 SMEs, which is an increase by 4% compared to the previous year, according to the Performance Dashboard for SMEs and Independent Contractors presented by the FPS Economy and the Minister of Independents and SMEs, Denis Ducarme, Monday.
Page 1 of 837