António Buscardini, passionate traveler and tireless entrepreneur, is pursuing his dream of gazing at the world through the eye of a camera lens. Behind him he leaves a legacy of hard work, creativity, and a spirit of giving back to the community: Brussels Express. The two-year-old news outlet that has reshaped the way information and advice is delivered to readers in Brussels and abroad will now be led by long-time Bruxellois, Pascal Goergen.
Here he opens up to readers and shares details about his life, personal interests, and plans for the future.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background?
I have lived in Brussels since 1987. Before, I lived in Cologne, Germany, where I was born. My parents (my father was French-speaking and my mother was Dutch-speaking) were teachers in the Belgian Army Forces in Germany, then called the 10th Province of Belgium. After my studies at the university in Namur and Louvain-la-Neuve, I moved to Jette, first to the center of the commune, then near the Bois du Laerbeek.
I’ve been very involved in this municipality because I think if you want to know the people you need to be on the field, in the cultural sphere and be social. I played mini football in Schaerbeek and Watermael-Boitsfort. My job was in the center of Brussels, as professor at EPHEC University College and my office had a view of Saint Gudule. In 1992, EPHEC moved from Brussels City Center to Woluwé Saint Lambert, near the campus ‘Louvain en Woluwé’.
The second part of my professional life is linked to the Brussels bubble. From 2000 to 2011, I was appointed as the Diplomatic Representative of the Brussels Capital Region to the EU in the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU (PermRep). Along with the Brussels regional Ministers, I was involved in the Council with important policies, for instance research and innovation, trying to defend and promote innovation in Belgium and Brussels towards the EU.
Urban dimension and structural funds were also important topics when I worked at the PermRep. Even though the Brussels Capital region is one of the richest regions in Europe, we have –as other European Capital regions– a lot of urban problems: mobility, pollution, environment, migration, housing.
Only since 1989 is Brussels a Region like Flanders and Wallonia. It means that those regional competences such as environment, research, industry, need to be defended within the Belgian Federal State, at international and European levels. And that was my job. During those eleven years, which means, 22 EU Presidencies, I had a lot of contact with diplomats, expats, regional offices, so you can see this is a strong link with Brussels Express.
After that, I had many missions abroad within those presidencies. And between 2010 and 2014 I traveled a lot in the European regions because I was the Secretary General of the Assembly of European Regions. And from 2014 until today in the frame of FEDRA (Federation of Regional Growth Actors in Europe) I managed to get a lot of insights in the regional and local domains, in 3 important fields: digitalization, youth and regional flavors.
Why did you acquire Brussels Express?
I met the founder of Brussels Express, António Buscardini, in Strasbourg, when I was the Secretary General of the Assembly of European Regions and he was then working for the press and communications department. I invited him to join AER’s team in Brussels and to be in charge of press relations. After he left the Assembly, we kept in touch and I was happy to follow his achievements. Particularly when he founded Brussels Express in January 2017. In the summer of 2018, he explained to me that he wanted to pursue his carrier as a TV director and that he was considering to sell Brussels Express. I didn’t hesitate to make an offer. The negotiations and transition went quite smoothly. We know each other quite well.
It is important for me to make the connection between my past and current activities linked to digital tools, FEDRA, and my other Brussels-based projects. Yes, Brussels Express is for me an excellent tool to go deeply into the Brussels multi-active scene. I love Brussels and I would like to share a piece of Brussels with our readers every day. This will be the driving force of the whole Brussels Express Editorial team.
What are your plans?
The first thing is to keep the spirit of Brussels Express because the spirit is something that Antonio gave to Brussels Express. To speak about news, about the people, about sociocultural activities, but also to write relevant articles for visitors coming to Brussels.
They are reading what is going on in Brussels when they are planning their trips and missions to Brussels. I’m not talking only about political delegations, commercial – so business delegations – but also tourists. They want to prepare their journey based on the information available on Brussels Express because we are the only English-speaking media that speaks about news, cultural events, agenda, restaurants, entertainment, within a daily digital platform written by Brussels’ insiders & expats.
What is very important is that we have an international team working together with the same spirit. And it’s very important to have a strong cohesion among us. The office is located at Square de Meeus, in the European Quarter. But we are working with the 19 municipalities, with the Region. And of course in the surrounding municipalities of the French and Dutch-speaking Brabant, where expats are also living.
The new things. We want the whole team, journalists and contributors, we want to develop this baby into a strong woman, a strong man, because we think we can give value to our community. This community is growing. In 2018 we had more than 726.058 views. We think the need is there. This appetite for news is there, and that’s why we want to build this Brussels-based, English-speaking community. So growth is one thing. Our objective is 1 million views in 2019.
Secondly, we will also have a focus on Regions and Cities because Brussels is the world capital of local and regional lobbying and networking, and a lot of activities are organized here in Brussels. A new section –Business & jobs– is also available since a few days now and we will come up with other inspiring elements: a new lay-out for our newsletter, interviews, profile pieces, and we will extend our partnerships with Brussels-based players in the diplomatic, political, economic, and sociocultural fields.
We also want to go digital and in a few weeks, we’ll have a closer partnership with our community through our mobile App. We want to share a lot of things with our community in an easy way. We want our readers to know about all the news, events and activities that are going on in Brussels.
If we achieve this in the next months, I will be a happy Editor-in-chief. Together, with all the team members, we will work hard to reach those goals for our readers. Thanks in advance to you, our loyal readers, and to our new readers for their trust in Brussels Express.