Belgium. Belgium’s euthanasia legislation came into focus again when the law was amended in February to include even seriously ill children, with no age limit. Later in the year, for the first time, a convicted prisoner was granted the right to die, following a legal battle. The man convicted of murder and rape had spent 30 years in prison and saw no possibility of being released.
The day before the contemporary parliamentary and EU elections in May, a man entered the Jewish Museum in Brussels and shot dead three people and shot a fourth, who later died. The victims were two Israeli tourists, a French tourist and a Belgian volunteer at the museum. A week later, a 29-year-old French Algerian was arrested in France, and he was later extradited to Belgium where he was charged with terrorism-related murder. The man is suspected to be an Islamist and has spent time in Syria’s war.
According to Countryaah.com, Belgium population in 2020 is estimated at 11,589,634. The parliamentary elections resulted in the Flemish nationalist party N-VA (New Flemish Alliance), which was the largest in the outgoing Parliament, further strengthening its position and gained 33 out of 150 seats in the House of Representatives. Just as after the previous election, leader Bart De Wever did not succeed in forming government himself, but the N-VA was allowed to participate for the first time when a coalition was formed in October. The more than four months it took to assemble a government meant a clear improvement over the 18 months that the government formation took after the 2010 election.
The other parties in the coalition were the French and Flemish liberals in MR (Reform movement) and Open VLD (Flemish liberals and democrats) as well as the Flemish Christian democrats in CD&V. Belgium thus gained the first right-wing liberal government in several decades. New Prime Minister became 38-year-old Charles Michel. His party MR got half the ministerial posts, but some Belgians still considered it worrying that only one of four government parties belonged to the French-speaking camp.
The government planned cuts in the public sector to reduce the budget deficit and cut government debt to just over 100% of GDP, one of the highest in the euro zone. Increased retirement age to 67 was also planned, as were lower taxes and stricter asylum rules.
The austerity plans led to protests. In November, 100,000 residents took part in a demonstration that degenerated into violence in Brussels, and in December a general strike was held, which included, among other things, paralyzing air and train traffic.
With mild summers and not too cold winters, Belgium has a temperate and typically Western European climate.