I am a beer-sipping expat

by Lorenzo Piccoli

In Brussels it has rained consistently for the entire duration of this year. This turned the press corps even more whiny than usual about the city. In fact, it looks like I am not alone in flanking this city. As put by the Wall Street Journal, “beer-sipping expats and whole Facebook pages love to moan about Brussels life”.

Meanwhile, the newspaper translated into common jargon the Commission’s country-specific recommendations for Belgium, with suggestions like: “the traffic jams are so bad you are wasting 2% of gross domestic product”; “you guys are really uncompetitive”; and “you guys have the most unfairest tax system”. The article, which you can read here, is basically a list of Belgium’s problems taken entirely from the Commission’s recommendations, available in all the country’s official languages. The article, of course, does not compare Brussels to London or Paris (although The Telegraph did a while ago, and Brussels won). But it provoked an interesting debate on Brussels, which continued on twitter with the hashtag #ceplatpays, which was used for positive and creative news about Belgium. These include:

  • moules-frites at Place Jourdan
  • comic book murals
  • Archiduc
  • the triumphal arch in the late afternoon
  • septante and nonante
  • Tripel Karmelit
  • the Turkish shop down the street
  • the eccentric old ladies in Grand Place