Creative Industries Belgium
Population: 11,491,346 (July 2017 est.)
Internet country code: .be
three equal vertical bands of black (hoist side), yellow, and red; the vertical design was based on the flag of France; the colors are those of the arms of the duchy of Brabant (yellow lion with red claws and tongue on a black field)
Kingdom of Belgium / Koninkrijk België (Dutch) / Royaume de Belgique (French) / Königreich Belgien (German)
Belgium became independent from the Netherlands in 1830; it was occupied by Germany during World Wars I and II. The country prospered in the past half century as a modern, technologically advanced European state and member of NATO and the EU. Political divisions between the Dutch-speaking Flemings of the north and the French-speaking Walloons of the south have led in recent years to constitutional amendments granting these regions formal recognition and autonomy. Its capital, Brussels, is home to numerous international organizations including the EU and NATO.
Belgium’s central geographic location and highly developed transport network have helped develop a well-diversified economy, with a broad mix of transport, services, manufacturing, and high tech. Service and high-tech industries are concentrated in the northern Flanders region while the southern region of Wallonia is home to industries like coal and steel manufacturing. Belgium is completely reliant on foreign sources of fossil fuels, and the planned closure of its seven nuclear plants by 2025 should increase its dependence on foreign energy. Its role as a regional logistical hub makes its economy vulnerable to shifts in foreign demand, particularly with EU trading partners. Roughly three-quarters of Belgium’s trade is with other EU countries, and the port of Zeebrugge conducts almost half its trade with the United Kingdom alone, leaving Belgium’s economy vulnerable to the outcome of negotiations on the UK’s exit from the EU.
Belgium’s GDP grew by 1.7% in 2017 and the budget deficit was 1.5% of GDP. Unemployment stood at 7.3%, however the unemployment rate is lower in Flanders than Wallonia, 4.4% compared to 9.4%, because of industrial differences between the regions. The economy largely recovered from the March 2016 terrorist attacks that mainly impacted the Brussels region tourist and hospitality industry. Prime Minister Charles MICHEL’s center-right government has pledged to further reduce the deficit in response to EU pressure to decrease Belgium’s high public debt of about 104% of GDP, but such efforts would also dampen economic growth. In addition to restrained public spending, low wage growth and higher inflation promise to curtail a more robust recovery in private consumption.
The government has pledged to pursue a reform program to improve Belgium’s competitiveness, including changes to labor market rules and welfare benefits. These changes have generally made Belgian wages more competitive regionally, but have raised tensions with trade unions, which have called for extended strikes. In 2017, Belgium approved a tax reform plan to ease corporate rates from 33% to 29% by 2018 and down to 25% by 2020. The tax plan also included benefits for innovation and SMEs, intended to spur competitiveness and private investment.
Mons 2015 European Capital of Culture
With 300 major events and thousands of cultural and artistic activities, Mons 2015 is getting ready to span 17 partner cities from Lille to Ghent. But the European Capital of Culture has a more ambitious strategy of development and regeneration not only for Mons but the entire region. Becoming a ‘Creative Valley’ in a world turned upside down by new technology is all about moving with the times and acquiring an impetus that will carry thousands of visitors along.
St’art investment fund is an unique financial instrument in Brussels and Wallonia and is the product of the joint efforts of the Wallonia Region and Wallonia-Brussels Federation to support the development of the creative economy. St’art is aimed at small and medium companies, including non-for-profit organisations. The fund contributes to the creation of companies and the development of existing structures in order to undertake new projects, create new products and win new markets. The objective is also to influence banks and private investors. Human capital, talent and the ability to innovate are key factors in the economic life of the regions.
Creative Wallonia is a framework program that places creativity and innovation in the center of the Walloon project. With the Contracts of the Future and the Marshall plans, Wallonia has mainly favored networking in order to consolidate the most promising sectors. This approach appears to be obtaining results: various studies or independent indicators testify to the excellent results registered by Wallonia, specifically in the foreign investment and the export domains.
Flanders DC is the Flemish organisation for entrepreneurial creativity. Its aim is to make entrepreneurial Flanders more creative and Creative Flanders more entrepreneurial. Research on creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and creative industries are made and events are set up in order to develop tools and bring people together.
The numediart Institute for Creative Technologies was founded in 2007 by the University of Mons. Building upon MONS 2015 (Mons will be the EU Capital of Culture in 2015), the Institute organizes internationally-renowned scientific training and research activities in the area of cultural and creative industries. The topics covered by the Institute are : audio, image, video, gesture, and bio-signal processing, for applications in which man-machine interaction aims at creating emotions. These activities are performed in the framework of the numediart Program coordinated by the numediart Consortium.