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Belgium in Brief: Not Expecting the Expected

Credit: Belga/Pxhere

Despite the wide media coverage in the run-up to “La Boum 2,” the unauthorised party that took place in the Bois de la Cambre in Brussels this weekend, I was still surprised that it actually happened.

While the first La Boum was an April Fools joke that got out of hand, many attempts to stop the second edition of the fake festival were made, and included police interrogations, preventative measures, and Facebook taking down the event page.

All in vain, it seems.

On Saturday, “La Boum 2” drew large crowds, and resulted in the Bois de la Cambre being evacuated, clashes with the police, the deployment of water cannons, 132 arrests, and 12 people taken to the hospital.

The next day, Brussels City mayor Philippe Close defended his earlier decision not to close the park, and said that the event had not been about freedom of expression, but about “freedom of provocation.”

On top of that – while I was still recovering from the fact that so many people decided they no longer wanted to be part of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo’s “team of 11 million Belgians” in the fight against the virus – a request for the authorisation of “La Boum 3” has been filed.

Like last weekend’s event, La Boum 3 is motivated by the psychological state of the young people in the absence of social contacts during one year of confinement.

So, what do you think? Do you understand the people wanting to let loose? Do measures need to be relaxed for young people?

Let @johnstonjules know. Or @maithchini, since she wrote it today.

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Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. ‘We knew there would be problems’: Brussels mayor defends management of ‘La Boum 2’

The mayor of the city of Brussels, Philippe Close, has defended his management of the “La Boum 2” event, which resulted in clashes and violence in the Bois de la Cambre on Saturday.

“We knew there would be problems. Strong measures were needed, but completely closing off this important green space in the capital would have amounted to taking hostage all the inhabitants of Brussels who can use this wood,” Close said. Read more.

2. ‘Can’t wait for the sceptics to decide’: Vervoort wants Belgian ‘corona pass’

Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort is in favour of introducing a “corona pass” in Belgium, which people can use to prove that they can safely go to the gym or a restaurant, like the one already used in Denmark.

Speaking on RTL-TVI on Sunday, Vervoort said he was open to this system to give people more freedom, but stressed that everyone should have had the chance to get vaccinated first. Read more.

3. Belgium could vaccinate 16-17-year-olds during summer holidays

People aged 16 and 17 could potentially receive their coronavirus vaccination during the summer holidays, according to a proposal by the Vaccination Task Force. Read more.

4. Delays today on Brussels Ring: disruption expected for a decade

Disruption is expected today on the Brussels Ring at the familiar junction Zaventem-Henneaulaan, as works begin that are expected to last ten years.

The ultimate goal: to separate through traffic from local traffic, to allow better traffic flow and reduce the number of accidents caused when vehicles enter or leave the motorway. Read More.

5. College of Europe rector defends partying students

The rector of the College of Europe in Bruges, Federica Mogherini, has come to the defence of her students, who hit the headlines several times in past months for taking part in lockdown parties.

The prestigious college is attended by graduates from across Europe and the world, each looking for a diploma in European administration, law or economics. Those who succeed are scattered throughout the higher echelons of the EU institutions themselves, and the private businesses that deal with them. Read More.

6. ‘La Boum 3’ seeks police approval for end of May gathering

Organisers of a series of large public gathering which ended in heavy police intervention in Brussels’ Bois de la Cambre on two separate occasions are seeking approval to hold a third edition at the end of May. Read More.

7. Queen Elisabeth Competition plays to empty rooms

This year’s edition of the international competition for career-starting musicians, the Queen Elisabeth Competition, which will start on Monday in Brussels, is an extraordinary one after it was postponed from last year due to the coronavirus crisis. Read More.