Roberto Martinez is New Coach

The Spaniard Roberto Martinez has been appointed coach of Belgium’s national football team, the Red Devils. Roberto Martinez is a well-known figure in English football having coached Swansea, Wigan and Everton. The appointment of Roberto Martinez comes after Coach Marc Wilmots was released after Belgium’s disappointing showing in the 2016 Euro Cup.

In a statement, the Belgian FA said that “We are pleased that we have found a coach of his stature. Once a shortlist had been made of the most interesting candidates, the choice for Martinez was made quickly. Roberto Martinez has already let it be known that he is honored to be able to start working with such a talented group of players.”

The 43 year-old Spaniard’s coaching career to date has been solely coaching clubs that play in the English league. He was fired a couple of months ago as coach of the Premier League team Everton, where Belgian internationals Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas play. His main achievements have been gaining Swansea City a promotion from the third tier of English league football and winning the FA Cup with Wigan Athletic.


Belgian King, Queen to Visit Japan 

Belgium’s King Philippe and Queen Mathilde are scheduled to make a state visit to Japan in October as the countries commemorate 150 years of bilateral ties.

During their October 11-14 visit, the king and queen are scheduled to speak with Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko and attend a banquet at the Imperial Palace.

The visit is expected to help “further develop the relationship of friendship, goodwill and cooperation that our countries have built in a variety of fields. More than 200 Japanese companies have expanded (their business) into Belgium, and it is extremely important for us to strengthen our ties across a broad range of fields including politics and the economy,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

Previously, the king and queen visited Japan as prince and princess in June 2012.


Belgium is a Strong Innovator

Belgium has reached seventh place in the ‘European Innovation Scoreboard 2016’. This means that the country is among the strongest innovators in the European Union. Belgium is actually the out-and-out leader in the areas of innovative networking and collaboration.

Every year, the European Union publishes the ‘European Innovation Scoreboard’ to assess the performance of its member states in the area of innovation. In the 2016 index, Belgium is in seventh place. This means that the country belongs to the select group of strong innovators who perform above the EU average.

Since 2008, Belgium has made significant advances, and this is primarily reflected in innovative collaborations. For example, Belgium scores particularly high in international scientific joint publications and partnerships.

Over the last year, Belgium improved its position primarily in the attractive research systems.  This is not entirely surprising, given the fact that KU Leuven was recently voted the most innovative university in Europe.  Belgium performs less well in the areas of intellectual assets and economic impact. Neighboring countries Germany and the Netherlands are still doing slightly better than Belgium, which nonetheless is ahead of France and Luxembourg.

The absolute front-runners in the European Union are the northern member states, Sweden and Denmark.



Belgian Companies at the Olympic Games

Nine Belgian companies are participating in the organization of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Barco, Bioracer, Desso, EVS, Janssen-Fritsen, NEP Belgium, Philips Lighting Belux, PRG and Schréder are all representing Belgian industry at the highest sporting level.

Together with a whole delegation of over a hundred Belgian athletes going to Rio de Janeiro this summer, there will also be nine companies helping to put Belgium on the map during the Olympic Games. A contract with the Agoria’s Sports Technology Club, representing the interests of Belgian technology companies in international sport performance, was already signed by the Brazilian organization committee before the last Olympic Games in London.

Peter Demuynck from Agoria remains pleased, although Belgium is less involved than during the last Olympic Games, during which twenty five companies from our country were concerned. “After all the Olympic minimum is always that bit higher when more distant export destinations are involved.” Belgium is assisting the organization in the areas of media technology, infrastructure, lighting and sports equipment. Most of the companies were already involved in London. Janssen-Fritsen is the only newcomer. This Temse-based company is to supply all the equipment for the artistic gymnastics competitions.

Furthermore, Barco, EVS, NEP Belgium and PRG are respectively to provide video screens, production infrastructure, broadcasting vans and venue technology. Schréder and Philips Lighting Belux are in turn responsible for the (LED) lighting in the mythical Maracanã stadium and the Olympic park. Finally Desso has installed a GrassMaster hybrid natural grass field in the Corinthians Arena in São Paulo and Bioracer is to supply cycling apparel for a number of teams.



21 Belgian Beers in the Top 50

Belgium is well known for its beer and is proud of all its different varieties. The fact that Belgium’s beers are also popular abroad is clear in list of the world’s best beers. As of July 18, 2016, there were no less than 21 Belgian beers in the top 50.

Everyone can vote for their favorite beers on Ranker; the list is continuously updated. Stella, the first Belgian beer on the list, is in 2nd place and is beaten only by Guinness. Following in the top 10 are: Chimay white (4), Hoegaarden (7) and Chimay Blue (9).



Wage Increase or Extra Vacation?

An increasing number of Belgian employees prefer extra days off from work, instead of a pay rise, in order to keep a good balance between work and private life. A poll conducted by the employers’ organization Voka shows that employers are accepting the idea and are more prepared to honor that wish.

Work pressure is high, and the federal government recently scrapped the possibility to claim a small extra benefit for those taking a sabbatical, or deciding to work part-time as they need more time off to find a good balance. 

However, there could be a solution. More companies are adopting the idea to give their employees more days off, if they make a financial sacrifice. Less wage for extra vacation, or no pay rise, but more days off instead. Flexibility on the labor market is growing, on both sides.

A poll conducted by Voka shows that 1 in 4 companies are prepared to do this. They often find it hard to find talented, hard-working people, and try to meet employees half-way. However, employers underline that the extra vacation should not impact on production levels.



Quick Replaced by Burger King

The hamburger chain Quick, French-owned but with outlets across Flanders and Brussels, is in the process of transforming into Burger King Restaurants, new owners QSR Belgium said. QSR is a subsidiary of the investment fund Kharis Capital, which acquired the Quick chain from the French Groupe Bertrand for an undisclosed sum.

Quick’s 101 restaurants in Belgium and Luxembourg have been for sale since the beginning of the year, after Bertrand said it wanted to concentrate on the French market, where it is the main Burger King franchise holder. The restaurants in the French chain will also be converted, meaning that the red Q sign will soon disappear from the streetscape altogether.

Quick made a profit of 977 million last year, down 5.1% on 2014 as a result, the company said, of increased competition and of the terrorist attacks in Paris in November and the knock-on effect in Brussels. Quick Belgium saw profits drop by 6% to 85 million. Of the 101 restaurants, 85 are operated under franchise.

Burger King also now works principally with franchise holders – 14,927 of the total worldwide of 15,003 restaurants. QSR has acquired its own license to use the Burger King brand.