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Business etiquette, language & culture

Overview

There are three official languages, French (Wallonia) used by 33% of the population – mostly in the south of the country, Dutch (Flanders) by more than 60% of the population, mostly in the north, and German by about 1% in the east. Luxembourgish is also spoken by around 0.5% of the population, but has no official status. Knowledge of English is good among Dutch speakers, particularly in Brussels. 

Business culture in Flanders and Wallonia broadly reflects that of the Netherlands and France respectively. An egalitarian society where over 97% of the population live in urban areas, yet still retain predominantly conservative values, the family plays a central role in most Belgians' lives.

Appearances are important to Belgians, particularly with their houses and personal appearance. You should dress smartly in order to impress in the business world, and punctuality is expected.

Avoid scheduling meetings during July and August, which are prime holiday months, the week before Easter and the week between Christmas and New Year. Meetings tend to be formal with a brief handshake the common greeting. Once a relationship has developed further, three kisses on the cheek is not uncommon (starting on the left), if one or both of the people are women.

 

Belgian public holidays

2017:

Date:

Day of the week:

Holiday details:

1st November

Wednesday

All Saint’s Day

11th November

Saturday

Armistice Day

25th December

Monday

Christmas Day

 

2018:

Date:

Day of the week:

Holiday details:

1st  January

Monday

New Year's Day

2nd April

Monday

Easter Monday

1st  May

Tuesday

International Workers Day

10th May

Thursday

Ascension Day

17th May

Thursday

Constitution Day

21st  May

Monday

Whit Monday

21st  July

Saturday

National Day

15th August

Wednesday

Assumption Day

1st  November

Thursday

All Saint’s Day

11th November

Sunday

Armistice Day

25th December

Tuesday

Christmas Day


 

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