Constitutional Court sees discrimination in Flemish integration course language test

The Belgian Constitutional Court sees discriminatory provisions, partially on the basis of nationality, in the Dutch language test of the Flemish civic integration programme.

About 26,000 people take a Dutch as a Second Language (NT2) course at 113 locations in Flanders as part of an integration programme. About half do so voluntarily, while the other half are following a compulsory programme. Until now, each location had its own training and Dutch language test. From September, all non-native speakers will take a standardised test.

A registration fee of 180 euros will also be introduced. The compulsory integration participants, unlike those taking part voluntarily, cannot claim any exemption or reduction on the registration fee. Several NGOs, including Vlaams Netwerk tegen Armoede (Flemish Network against Poverty) and Vluchtelingenwerk Vlaanderen (Refugee Work Flanders), have started a procedure at the Constitutional Court against the new rules.

The difference in treatment is not reasonably justified, "all the less so since it results in indirect discrimination on the grounds of nationality"

The court has now ruled that excluding compulsory participants from "social corrections" is discriminatory. The judges say that both mandatory and voluntary participants may be in a difficult socio-economic situation and that the difference in treatment is not reasonably justified.

"All the less so since it results in indirect discrimination on the grounds of nationality, given that a much higher percentage of foreigners are obliged to follow an integration programme," the judgment reads. The articles in question have been annulled.



#FlandersNewsService | Flemish Education minister Ben Weyts © BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE

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