Belgium has a great deal to offer expatriates. The country boasts a high standard of living; a large and heterogeneous expatriate population; excellent schools; a thriving business environment; a culture rich in art, history, and traditional products such as diamonds and lace. Occupying a central location in Europe's most urbanized and cosmopolitan area it is home to many international corporations and organizations, including NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization).
Government and politics
Belgium is a parliamentary democracy with a constitutional hereditary monarchy. The king, as chief of state, is technically the source of executive authority. In reality, the Council of Ministers, headed by the prime minister, usually the leader of the party with the greatest representation in parliament, makes many of the decisions reserved for the executive branch. The legislative branch consists of a parliament with two houses. The Senate is elected by a combination of provincial councils, fellow senators, and direct election, and the Chamber of Representatives is directly elected. Elections are held every four years.
After a 20-year reign, King Albert II abdicated the throne to his son, the new King Philippe, in July 2013.
Expatriate voting rights
The Belgian Parliament grants expatriates living in Belgium, regardless of nationality, the right to vote in local municipal elections. Certain regulations apply to non-EU foreigners; those who meet certain conditions - including at least five years of residence in Belgium - are eligible to vote. They must first register with their municipality.
EU nationals have held the right to vote in local Belgian elections for more than a decade.
Belgium has capitalized on its central geographic location and well-developed transportation system to become one of the world's most prosperous and highly diversified private enterprise economies in the world.
Belgium is home to the headquarters of the EU and plays a leading role as a policy maker. The success of the common currency, the Euro, is a cornerstone of the EU's economic policy.