Flemish Liberals want more English and fewer MPs in Brussels

The Flemish liberals of Open VLD plan to make Brussels more efficient and modern. They believe this can be done by simplifying the political structures and putting more emphasis on English in public services.

Although it is forbidden by law, a lot of English is spoken at the desks of Brussels municipalities' town halls. Open VLD wants to officially give the language the same rights as French and Dutch in public services.

"We need to modernise the 1966 language law"

"We need to modernise the 1966 language law. Oral contact with citizens should be allowed in English," Brussels minister for Multilingualism Sven Gatz told Radio 1. "We should be polite and welcoming to people who do not speak Dutch or French. But if you live here for a long time, you have to master one of the languages."

According to Gatz, adapting the language law does not threaten Dutch. "Multilingualism is good for our language," he says. "Never before have so many people learned Dutch in Brussels. People understand that the first contact may be in English, but Dutch is the key to social mobility."

Fewer MPs

Open VLD not only wants to change the language law but also the political structures in Brussels. The party wants to reduce the number of deputies from 89 to 50. The Brussels parliament would then consist of 40 French speakers and 10 Dutch speakers.

Also on the table is the abolition of the political bodies of the Community Commissions, the separate authorities of the language groups within the Brussels region. This is a proposal that does not impress Flemish Brussels minister Benjamin Dalle (CD&V). "Surely we are not going to let French speakers have a say in Dutch-speaking schools and institutions," he said on Twitter.

"The solution for a more efficient Brussels is not less 'Flemish'; on the contrary"

Flemish MP Annabel Tavernier (N-VA) is also unenthusiastic about the proposal. "Does Open VLD really want to abolish the Flemish presence in Brussels and let French speakers run the Flemish schools? The solution for a more efficient Brussels is not less 'Flemish'; on the contrary," she said.

Finally, Open VLD encourages Brussels communes with less than 100,000 inhabitants to merge with a neighbouring commune. Today, only four Brussels communes have more than 100,000 inhabitants.





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