Just like Wallonia, Brussels and Flanders, the German-speaking Community of Belgium is also part of the Belgian federal state, with its own legislative power and a high level of autonomy. For external representation purposes, it changed its name into East Belgium, according to how it is typically referred to anyway.
East Belgium – a connecting and enriching border zone
People in East Belgium feel at ease with their being at the border of Germany, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the own Belgian neighbours. Their historical, cultural and linguistic identity is very important to them. They have their own Parliament and Government, own kindergartens and schools, and own Chamber of Commerce and Industry – all German-speaking. However, East Belgians are thoroughly multilingual and have a sound intercultural understanding.
Because of its border location, many different influences and fascinating contrasts merge here. For Minister-President Oliver Paasch (see picture), this mix is the peculiarity of East Belgium: “We count as Germans do and we live as French do. I believe that people are right when they say that we are diligent and disciplined workers. But on the other hand, we can also celebrate and enjoy!”
East Belgian companies – internationally oriented
The region of East Belgium is marked by its central location at the heart of the European internal market. Thanks to excellent rail and motorway connections, companies reach very quickly the neighboring conurbations in the Ruhr and Rhine areas or in the Meuse basin. More distant markets are served in only a few hours, thanks to the six surrounding airports (Düsseldorf, Köln, Trier, Brussels, Liège, Luxembourg and Maastricht).
The East Belgian economy is primarily characterized by small and medium-sized companies. The share of the manufacturing industry in the region is proportionately bigger than in the rest of Belgium. Leading sectors are the metal-producing and processing industry, as well as precision mechanics, followed by chemicals and plastics, agro-food and wood-processing. East Belgium’s craftsmanship enjoys an outstanding reputation far beyond the borders through its high quality and flexibility.
Made in East Belgium
Since 2013, the brand “Made in East Belgium is synonymous for high-quality and healthy products from East Belgium manufactured at close proximity of the consumers. This brand does not only enhance the renown of our region, the close relations between producers and consumers also contribute to strengthening the local economy and safeguarding jobs in the region.
Dual learning in East Belgium – the ideal way towards employment
Another distinctive feature of the region is the dual education system, very similar to the German system. Here, trainees learn the theory in vocational school and practice within companies. Our dual vocational training guarantees qualified junior staff and our craftsmen are in high demand: almost 100% of the apprentices find a job within six weeks after completion of their training. East Belgians are highly committed, adapt easily and are very loyal to their employer. All this is reflected in the comparatively low 7% unemployment rate.
East Belgium – a family-friendly place
In East Belgium family and work reach a good balance. As from the age of three, every child gets a free-of-charge place in the kindergarten and comprehensive, extra-curricular care. At the age of six, children pass on to all-day school. Already in kindergarten children learn French as their first foreign language. Science supports this concept: the earlier you start to learn languages, the better you learn them. This way, students have better chances and can move to Liège, Aix-la-Chapelle or Maastricht for a study, training or work. Our kids become thus “little cosmopolites”, to whom the world is wide open.
East Belgium – pure nature
East Belgium is also a green oasis, surrounded by lively cities. This territory of nature and landscape invites both tourists and locals to find peace and relaxation. At the same time, the cultural scene is very much alive, with local fairs, carnival, art, theatre and music. These multiple and diverse activities are supported by a vibrant community life. In gastronomy too, East Belgium can compete with the best in the world. In many recipes, the delicate influences of the neighbouring countries can be retrieved.
East Belgium, at the crossroads of the Roman and Germanic culture, invites you and your family to live, learn and work here. For any questions you may have, please do not hesitate to contact us at www.ihk-eupen.be.