Friday, November 16, 2012

Belgium - the red tape paradise

Belgium is a funny country. What was it running on all that time without the government? Paper. If red tape wasn't invented in Belgium, it was for sure perfected here- an ultimate depiction of Kafka's Process.

Level 1: Language. You should consider yourself being very lucky if you find an official who knows and wants to speak English. You might live in the capital of Europe, but expect to be treated like a Belgian.

Level 2: Simple registration procedures for EU citizens which takes up to 30 minutes in Germany  takes up to 6 months in Belgium. In this time the Ministry is involved to decide upon a matter that is in fact already decided upon by international and national legislation. If you dare to call them a week before to kindly remind them that 6 months expires soon, you will hear it for disturbing them without reason. If you cal them a week after the deadline has passed, they will explain they sent you a letter and it isn't their problem if you didn't get it. Granting citizenship is of course a task for the parliament that is to decide upon each individual application. Priorities first.

Level 3: Papers. Belgium wants to keep its' citizens healthy and the paper industry happy. This is why you need to fill in or bring papers almost everywhere you go. Be sure though that after you've collected and brought the papers you were asked to, they won't be needed and you will get new papers to fill in and bring instead. To make things more fun: no one will know what is it you really need.

After a year here, I've completed the first 3 levels but I'm sure there's more to be discovered.

To be continued....