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3 Mar 2020 11:35 AM | Tim Reynolds

The Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has established a website on the #COVID19 virus that is available in English as well as Flemish, French and German.

Contact us if you want the BBCA to post a News Story or an Event that is strongly linked to the British Community in Brussels.  We reserve the right to select items for publication and to edit items as required for style and space.

Email    BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com


News and Events -----------

  • 26 Dec 2020 10:49 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Everyone at BBCA hopes you had a safe and satisfying Christmas experience. On to Boxing Day and our second 2020 Christmas walk video message is from BBCA Council Chair - Glenn Vaughan.

    Don't forget if you fancy shooting a video of your favourite festive walk or sending in a few photos of a memorable meander do not hesitate to convey your contribution to us via the BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com email address.

    Thanking you very much and Happy Christmas!

  • 25 Dec 2020 10:21 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    ICYMI, at long last the UK and the European Union have concluded negotiations on a draft Trade and Cooperation Agreement on Christmas Eve afternoon.


    The deal covers a wide range of issues including trade in goods and services, fish, energy and retaliation rights. More details on the deal can be found here. The deal does not cover financial services.

    A handy infographic outlining what is in the deal compared to membership of the EU can be downloaded here.

    Now both sides have to read, check and implement the deal before the end of 2020. The European Commission is proposing a limited “provisional application” until 28 February 2021, meaning that initially only EU Member States and the UK need to give their consent to the existing text. The process is beginning today (Christmas Day) with a meeting of EU member States ambassadors at 10:30 a.m.

    The European Parliament will scrutinize and hold a vote on acceptance at the beginning of 2021.

  • 25 Dec 2020 12:08 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    A very Merry Christmas to one and all! Our first 2020 Christmas walk video is with BBCA Council member and Editor of The Bulletin Magazine - Sarah Crew. 


    If you fancy shooting a video of your favourite festive walk or sending in a few photos of a memorable meander do not hesitate to convey your contribution to us via the BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com email address.

    Thanking you very much and Happy Christmas!

  • 22 Dec 2020 3:44 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    This week, the Belgian interior ministry is sending a letter to all registered British citizen with details of the steps they will be required to take after the Brexit transition period ends at midnight on 31 December 2020.


    The letter comes in an envelope as above and the letter is signed by state secretary for migration Sammy Mahdi. It explains your rights under the Withdrawal Agreement and the process you will need to follow during 2021 to safeguard them. A pdf copy of the letter can be accessed here.

    Essentially all UK nationals and their family members will have to apply for a special new residence status at their commune between 1 January and 31 December 2021. Throughout 2021, the rights of all UK nationals registered as living in Belgium before the end of the transition period will remain protected.

    Once you have applied for the new status, you should receive a certificate confirming that the application and this can be used to prove your residence rights - including unlimited access to the Belgian labour market - until your application is officially approved.

    Following approval, a new electronic residence card (M card) will be issued to you that is renewable every five years - or every 10 years if you have already acquired permanent residence here.

    All current residence cards (E/E+/F/F+) for British citizens will cease to be valid on 31 March 2022.

    The process

    More information on the application process can be found here. The application must be made with the commune where you are currently registered as living on the national register. There will be an application form to fill in and you will need to also provide:

    • A copy of your valid Belgian residence document (appendices 8, E or E+ card).
    • A valid identity card or passport (valid is underlined and may indicate that passports with less than six months validity before the expiry date may not be accepted - this needs to be checked). 
    • An extract from the criminal record which is not older than 6 months.

    The criminal record extract can be a Belgian extract or an extract from the United Kingdom's criminal record (police records) or the country where you were resident before coming to Belgium. You will also need a legalized translation of this extract if it is not in Dutch, French, German or English.

    The supporting documentation should be submitted at the time of application or, at the latest, within 3 months of the date of application. No decision - and therefore no issue of a new card - can be made for incomplete applications and excessive delay may result in your application being declared inadmissible.

    Further information on the process and your rights in Belgium under the Withdrawal Agreement can be found on this dedicated Belgian government website.

  • 15 Dec 2020 10:25 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Put your best foot forward this Christmas! The BBCA invites the community to send in festive video clips from their holiday walks. Join the Brussels British Community Association (BBCA) in sharing short video clips - or photos - from your favourite outdoor walks during the winter holiday period.


    As 2020 draws to a close with Covid-19 confinement measures and travel restrictions impacting everyone’s lives, the BBCA wants to lift the community spirit over Christmas and New Year.

    The seasonal campaign aims to highlight positive messages about the BBCA and the charities and organisations it works with.

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, walking has been the easiest way to exercise for our mental and physical health. That’s why the BBCA is inviting individuals and groups involved with the association to record short video clips on a smartphone while out for a walk.

    We will edit the videos and post them daily to our website and Facebook page over the holiday period. Here are some suggestions for the short clips, which are best recorded in landscape format. As we only need 20-30 seconds of video, you don’t have to include all these points!

    1. Introduce yourself and any fellow walkers plus your connection to the BBCA
    2. Tell us where you are walking and what you like about it
    3. Share some information about your involvement with the BBCA, the importance of representing the interests of the British community and the need for a source of trusted information for all English-speakers
    4. Express a short festive message on behalf of yourself and everyone at the BBCA

    If you don’t fancy shooting a video, send us some photos. Ideally, we aim to start publishing the videos on 24 December, so please start sending in your contributions now.

    Any questions? Don’t hesitate to contact, Glenn, Tim or Sarah at BBCA via BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com.

    Thanking you very much and Happy Christmas!


    Glenn Vaughan, Sarah Crew and Tim Reynolds

    On behalf of the BBCA Council

  • 11 Dec 2020 11:48 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Following the analysis of the epidemiological situation, Brussels region Minister-President Rudi Vervoort has decided to extend the restrictive measures in Brussels to 15 January 2021.


    These specific measures are:

    • The imposition of a curfew from 22h00 to 06h00.
    • The obligation to wear a mask (covering the nose and mouth) in public places.
    • The closure of all businesses at 20h00 - except from 14 December to 31 December when closing time can be extended to 21h00.
    • A ban on alcohol consumption in public places.

    With regard arrangements in the Christmas period, from 24 to 25 December, consultations are ongoing with the 19 municipalities and at federal level.

    In addition, the moratorium on home evictions has been extended to 15 January 2021.

    These measures have been taken to avoid an upsurge in the rate of COVID-19 infections, to reduce the pressure on healthcare staff, to allow the normal functioning of hospitals and the provision of care for all patients.

    The primary objective is to preserve the health of all citizens and to avoid at all costs a third wave which would be catastrophic from a health, social and economic point of view.

    For more information on COVID measures in Brussels visit the dedicated website (in English). Although be aware that the French and Dutch language versions of this site are more rapidly updated with news. 

  • 8 Dec 2020 5:45 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Whatever the outcome of the UK-EU negotiations, UK Nationals in Belgium need to take action to continue living in Belgium, and to maintain their access to the rights and services they currently enjoy.


    We hope that BBCA members, their family, friends and colleagues who are UK nationals will have already made the necessary arrangements, but if you haven’t or you know someone who hasn’t there are four key action that need to be addressed before 31 December 2020.

    With the COVID situation many people have become isolated, so please help spread the word to everyone in the community.

    The four main actions UK nationals need to take are:

    Residency:

    Register with your Commune/Gemeente as an EU resident before 31 December 2020. Visit gov.uk/livinginbelgium for more information.

    Healthcare

    Once you have registered as a resident, register for healthcare with a mutuelle or ziekenfonds. Visit gov.uk/livinginbelgium for more information.

    Driving Licence

    Exchange your UK driving licence for a Belgian one by 31 December 2020 to benefit from a simple exchange procedure. Visit gov.uk/livinginbelgium for more information.

    Passports

    Check your UK passport validity online. There will be new rules on travel to Europe from 1 January 2021.

    Information sources

    The latest information on living in Belgium for UK nationals can always be found on the gov.uk website: gov.uk/livinginbelgium.

    In addition the Belgian Office for Foreigners website, and its FAQ section is a valuable source of information and this is where you will find information on the new residency system for UK nationals in scope of the Withdrawal Agreement. The FAQ sections also addresses the point of starting the residency registration process (if you are not already registered) before 31 December 2020 rather than having completed the process with a decision from the Commune by that date.

    The Belgian Transport Ministry website contains the official guidance from the Belgian government that UK nationals resident in Belgium should exchange their UK driving licence for a Belgian one before 31 December 2020 to benefit from a simple exchange procedure. There is also an email address provided here should people have questions or concerns.

    The UK based Money and Pensions Service gives guidance on banking, financial services and insurance changes after 31 December 2020. 

    And, of course, the BBCA and its associated charities are here to support the UK community in Belgium. Do not hesitate to get in touch if you have questions, ideas or issues on your rights and obligations as we move into this new regime. If we cannot help directly, we will know someone who can.

  • 7 Dec 2020 12:57 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    ICYMI On Thursday the Government of the Brussels region approved a proposal for the Smartmove model of car taxation based essentially on how a car is used by the owner. The tax will be calculated with a base amount that will increase depending on the number of kilometres driven, what time of day the vehicle is driven and the engine power of the vehicle. There will also be an option to pay for a day pass for driving in Brussels.


    The objective of Smartmove is to reduce car use by 25% in the capital by 2030, lowering the impact of traffic, while improving air quality. For Brussels resident’s car registration tax will disappear as well as traffic tax unless you own a ‘luxury’ vehicle. The exact pricing for the new ‘pay as you go’ tax has not yet been revealed; however, drivers will have to pay for travel during working weekdays but not at weekends or in the evening after 19h00.

    The final approval of the Smartmove concept is subject to a broad consultation including with other regions and the federal government. The Brussels government anticipates Smartmove to be launched sometime in 2022 but acknowledges that this depends on discussions with Wallonia and Flanders that "will not be simple".

    The Smartmove technology uses licence plate recognition by roadside cameras that will be used to calculate distance and time of travel. Brussels had previously examined and trialled the use of satellite tracking technologies. More on The Bulletin website.

    30kph in the New Year

    Don't forget that around 85% of Brussels' streets will be subject to a 30kph speed limit from 1 January 2021. Brussels Mobility has published its finalised map here. Roads in blue will be 30kph or less, if a lower limit is already in place.

  • 4 Dec 2020 11:52 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    A detailed plan for the rollout of coronavirus vaccinations in Belgium was published yesterday (3 December). The rollout will start in early January, will be free and voluntary, deploy five different vaccines with 22 million doses in total available. The plan identifies six groups that will be vaccinated over three phases, in order of priority.


    Earlier in the week, Prime Minister Alexander de Croo had indicated that distribution will start from 5 January.

    During the first phase, a limited amount of vaccines will be available to residents and staff of care homes and health care professionals. Some 600,000 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine will be used to (hopefully) immunise to 300,000 people through two doses. The Pfizer vaccine requires very cold storage and handling infrastructure.

    Under the second phase, when more vaccines with more conventional storage requirements are available, people over 65; at-risk patients between 45 and 65; and people with essential social and/or economic functions will get a vaccine.

    The final phase of the plan will target other at-risk patients and the rest of the adult population when a sufficient supply of vaccines is available. According to Dirk Ramaeckers, the head of the Belgian vaccination task force, it is likely that this stage will not be reached before summer 2021.

    The current five candidate vaccines against COVID-19 are from AstraZeneca/Oxford; Johnson & Johnson; Pfizer/BioNTech; CureVac; and Moderna. Official EU-wide approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech mRNA vaccine is expected before the end of the year.

    How does an mRNA vaccine work?

    This handy infographic from the Royal Society of Chemistry and Compound Chemistry explains how an mRNA vaccine works.


    You can download and read the full report on the Belgian Vaccination Strategy here (in French) – ‘Avis pour l’opérationnalisation de la Stratégie de vaccination COVID-19 pour la Belgique’. 

  • 3 Dec 2020 12:30 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Calling all quizzers. The UNICEF Christmas Quiz has been launched. Under COVID, charities have suffered as they struggle to provide their normal levels of support to those in need, while coping with reduced income. With Christmas approaching, we hope that you will be willing to lend your support to UNICEF in Belgium by participating in their Christmas Anagram quiz or by making a donation to this worthwhile cause.


    In the Christmas Anagram quiz you are asked to find Christmas words or names. The number of letters corresponding to each clue is in parentheses and the number in bold represents the total number of letters of the Christmas word or name. The Quiz sheet can be downloaded here.

    Future sporting events are a good reference for tie-break questions and this quiz is no exception. This time you are asked to guess the total number of runs that Pakistan will score in the T20 International cricket match vs. New Zealand to be played in Hamilton, New Zealand starting at 19.00 local time on Sunday 20 December, 2020.

    For those who may not be familiar with cricket, you should know that the number of runs scored by Pakistan in their last ten T20 matches were: 106, 107, 130, 137, 137, 142, 150, 157, 190, and 195 (an average of 145).

    Entries to …

    Answers to the Quiz must be received no later than midnight (CET) on Saturday 19 December and the winners will be announced on Monday, 21 December.

    The winner and ‘Christmas Anagram Quiz Champion’ will be the entry with the highest score and whose tie-break answer (if applicable) is closest to the true actual number of runs scored by Pakistan on 20 December.

    The winner will receive three bottles of Saint Emilion Grand Cru. There will also be a prize of a bottle of champagne for the person who does not achieve the highest quiz score, but whose tie-break answer is closest to the actual number of runs scored.

    To enter you should email your answers to unicefquiz@gmail.com to arrive no later than midnight (CET) (23.00 UK) on Saturday 19 December.

    If you do not wish to participate in the quiz, please consider making a donation to UNICEF.

    Donations to …

    The suggested entry fee of EUR 10 (you may contribute more if you wish) can be transferred directly to the Ex-Pats for UNICEF account: BE83 3630 2680 8315 in Belgium including the reference Anagram December.

    All money raised by UNICEF Belgium during 2020 will go to support their WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) project in Rwanda.

    Please feel free to distribute this announcement widely to your friends, colleagues and fellow quiz team members. Good luck!

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