I was recently in Brussels, and had a moment to look around the centre, before getting the Eurostar home. A couple of things struck me:
1. The most majestic buildings in the Grand Place were paid for by beer makers (the Guild of Brewers, to be more precise) in the 17th century. There has been good money in quality Belgian beer for quite some time.
2. Belgium was formed in the 1830s and had at one stage been part of the Spanish Netherlands. It currently has no government, as the two parts of Belgium seem to be quite happy with the way things are being run without one at the moment.
3. If you get on the Metro at a station with no ticket office, you pay on the other side of the barriers after you have got off at your destination. In other words they trust you to queue up and pay for the journey you have just made, when you could just walk off. This would never catch on in London.