Italian Bruxellois: A palpable community

November 28 marked the gathering of the Italian expat community in Brussels. Converging for a presentation of economic-geopolitics, multiple guest speakers came to talk to the Italian expats about Italy, Europe, and global markets after Trump’s election.

Italy has a long history of market-minded expats in Belgium. Beginning in the middle ages, traders came to Flanders selling goods and many even came as representatives of Italian multinational banks (Medici). More Italian immigrants came in the first part of the 20th century, settling mostly in Charleroi. Since then, the Italian community continues to thrive; with Italian expats being the second largest expat community in Belgium with a population of around 156,000.

Being a multinational city, Brussels is where the majority of new Italian expats reside. Of the population of Brussels, 30% are Expat communities – 13% of that is the Italian expats. Equating to about 33,000 Italians in Brussels, this makes the Italian expat community the 4th biggest in Brussels, after the French, Romanian and Moroccans.

“Many Italians that come to Belgium now are trained professionals. They work for major private companies, NGOs or the EU institutions” says Salvatore Orlando, Head of Expatriates at BNP Paribas Fortis. “Some younger Italians come as entrepreneurs, and their projects can be seen through the many high-end retailers in Brussels” he concludes.

The flow of Italians to Belgium from 2000-2007 remained between 2000-2700 per year; in 2008 that number increased to 3655 and has been significantly increasing ever since; with over 6000 Italians moving to Belgium in 2014.

Seeing the increase, Orlando thinks that meetings like those on the 28th, are a good way for Italian expats to network; expanding the Italian community but solidifying it into a close and personable entity where members could share goals, create opportunities and synergies within the community.

With the increased Italian migration and changes within the EU from Brexit, there may come even more opportunities for Italian expats to live and work in Brussels. Further solidifying for an already solid group.