Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Expat Population in Brussels Continues to Grow

A 2005 population study has indicated the number of non-Belgians living in the 'Flemish edge' around bilingual Brussels is still increasing.
Liberal VLD MP Luk Van Biesen also said EU nationals are increasingly buying houses instead of renting, intensifying pressure on the housing market.
The MP urged the Flemish government to take initiatives to ensure that houses remain affordable for young Flemish people. "Currently, EU citizens are buying more than 50 percent of the homes offered up for sale. Earlier, foreigners were primarily found in the rental market," Van Biesen said.
"This evolution indicates a longer-term presence of especially EU public
servants and foreign managers in the region.
"The high real estate prices mean, however, a serious obstacle for children of the native population to settle there." On 1 December 2005, native Belgians made up 78.5 percent of the population of Kraainem, Wezembeek-Oppem, Overijse, Hoeilaart and Tervuren. That was a decline of 0.22 percent compared with 2004.
The increase in the number of foreigners is mainly attributed to the arrival of immigrants from non-EU countries.
But there was also an increase in the number of EU nationals, rising by 56 people to 14,503, representing 17.78 percent of the area's total population.
The Flemish government hopes to reverse the trend and is launching several initiatives involving social housing, more affordable land parcels, construction of "for sale" and rental homes and support for the renovation of homes for purchase.
"The knowledge of the Dutch language must be the basic condition of this housing policy," Van Biesen said.
He also urged for compensation to be paid to municipalities in the Flemish edge because a large number of the EU nationals living there do not need to pay tax.

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