Brussels Houses - CC / Flickr
Brussels Houses - CC / Flickr
I’m really struggling at the moment. I have a problem that every freelancer wants to have: too much work. I’m training people in EU politics every week, most of it in London. I’m running web and social media workshops for a variety of clients. And I’m trying to get websites online and delivered for as many clients as I possibly can. To make matters more complex the small website firm I use for hosting – uRevised – is about to close down.

So ideally I need to delegate work… but to whom, and how?

I’m working with Jan Seifert to setup techPolitics and that has taken some weight off my shoulders. But I would ideally need to find at least a few others with whom I could work – a freelance EU politics trainer, and some people that could do web projects. Not specifically programmers, but people who understand the internet and are sharp and bright. Importantly I do not want to just tell people what to do. I want to work with proactive people who will take responsibility themselves, be willing to build something, a kind of common endeavour.

I fear that the Brussels EU bubble is not really the place to find such people. Everyone is too concerned about the insecurity of being away from their home country. Getting a job in an institution with a solid income and pension seems to be the goal for far too many. It’s a golden cage in my view. The Belgian context does not help – becoming a freelancer in Belgium is complex – but those practical matters can be overcome. There is an enormous amount of Web 2.0 work around the EU institutions to do. Where are the people with whom to do it?

I feel very much like some odd risk taker in an extremely risk averse environment at the moment.


  1. I’ll do it..leave Brussels in a couple of months precisely to get away from the Brussels Bubble philosophy u v rightly describe..would be up for this 🙂

  2. Pascal Van Hecke


    you might want to check out



  3. Elated

    Belgium must be about the worst place on earth to be starting a business venture (as I can testify to from seeing my wife’s tribulations up close). I was just about ready to pack my bags for a more civilized (less socialist) environment, when the EU snapped me up. So I understand perfectly what you are saying.

    Some 1.4 million of people at working age around here are on some goverment hand-out. Another 1 million are doing jobs on a government payroll. About 2.4 million people are working in the private sector. This implies that even among people at working age private sector employees/employers do not make for a majority. Throw in the retired, students, etc. and you will understand that the life raft has tilted beyond the tipping point.
    The comparatively high state debt, pay-as-you-go social “security” scheme, lowest effective retirement age in the OECD will do the rest.

    I will be watching the complete collapse of this place over the next decades from my cushioned ivory tower and heaven forbid I should not ensure my children get a decent passport and emigrate.

    Other than that, I can only applaud your entrepreneurial drive, Jon… some-one needs to feed the government Leviathan.

  4. I admire your attitude, Jon. The EU politics training – my angle is law, as you know, but if you think I could do anything to help, let me know.

  5. @Simon – I need people I can effectively meet… so that basically means London and Brussels, or Berlin possibly. Also people who would be OK working on the sorts of projects I’m working on.

    @Eurosocialiste – I’m aware of the issues faced by some in the private sector in the EU environment, although it’s not universally the case… Also even in the case of these false independents there is at least a sort of guarantee that the company that will be providing the work will continue to exist. That sort of assurance I cannot quite provide (yet).

  6. Not exactly true, a lot of the people working in the Brussels consultancies actually have a free-lancer status and work on their own projects/company alongside their main activity. It’s true that we have a divide between public sector(ish) and private sector professionals in the Brussels bubble, but is that much different from any other job market? After all, it’s quite natural for an individual to seek comfort and security.

  7. Do these interwebby people you need actually have to be in Brussels to do the web work?

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