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Belgium in Brief: Life In The All Passports Line

Once upon a time, Brexit was the topic everyone has an opinion on, not coronavirus.

Brits make up a noticeable chunk of the expats in Belgium, so their future was prime pint conversation back when we could go to bars.

In 2021, it’s still a conversation starter among a smaller section of society, as Belgium’s Brits face the legal issues clouding their future in the country they set out to make their new home.

The primary concern was if Brits could get a document to prove they were here pre-Brexit. Then the M-card came into being, giving all Brits living in Belgium before 31 December 2020 proof of their status in Belgium.

The next issue came during the first quarter of 2021, as communes warned they couldn’t make the cards yet. That particular problem went away with time.

That brings us to the latest issue: citizenship. Here’s the crux:

“Despite legislation having been adopted to include M cards among the residence documents accepted as proving the right to work in Belgium, the Royal Decree has not been adapted to include M cards among the residence documents accepted as proving lawful residence for the purposes of acquiring Belgian nationality by declaration.” For the full details, see the piece here.

How’s your experience with citizenship/registration going (M card or otherwise)? Let me know @johnstonjules

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1. Belgium must be ‘careful’ with relaxations for vaccinated people only, warns expert

Belgium has to be careful with implementing relaxations only for people who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19, according to infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe, who is not in favour of the possibility.

On Wednesday, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) issued an opinion stating that measures such as wearing a face mask and keeping distance could be “relaxed” for fully vaccinated people when meeting each other. Read more.

2. ‘Administrative oversight’ sees Brits face Belgian citizenship woes

British residents in Belgium are calling on the Belgian government to adapt current legal statutes to ensure they will be eligible to apply for citizenship with the new residency “M card” issued as a result of Brexit. Read more.

3. Coronavirus reproduction rate over 1 again in Belgium

The reproduction rate has gone up to 1.01 in Belgium, meaning that one person with coronavirus infects on average more than one other person, according to the latest official figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Thursday. Read More.

4. Noella the Limburg she-wolf is expecting more cubs

Noella, the matriarch of a small family of wolves living in Limburg province, is expecting a new little of cubs, the Agency for Nature and Woodland (ANB) has confirmed.

The ANB, together with the Institute for Nature and Woodland Research (INBO), has a new set of photographs that confirm Noella’s condition. However, the photos are not being released for the time being, as the location where they were made is too clearly evident. Both agencies are concerned that the wolves may be disturbed by sightseers or even hunters. Read more.

5. ‘Second wave almost entirely due to politics,’ according to Van Ranst

The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium was almost entirely down to politics and the decisions made by the government at the time, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst. Read More.

6. Europe experienced its warmest autumn, winter and overall year on record in 2020

The autumn and winter of 2020 and the year as a whole were the warmest ever recorded in Europe, according to the annual report on Europe’s climate published on Thursday by the Copernicus monitoring programme. Read More.

7. Police will fine businesses that open their terraces early

Liege police have been instructed to issue fines to any hospitality establishments that open their terraces prematurely on 1 May, as well as customers who do not respect the bubble rules. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times