Flemish Parliament calls for "clearer" Flemish voice in Belgian and EU foreign policy
The Flemish parliament requests a larger and clearer role for Flanders in the field of European and foreign policy. However, this requires that the cooperation agreements between the federated states and the federal government be updated. "Only in this way can Flanders properly exercise its constitutional powers," says Karl Vanlouwe (N-VA), who, together with Karin Brouwers (CD&V) and Bart Tommelein (Open VLD), submitted a proposal for a resolution that was approved on Wednesday 18 May in the Flemish parliament.
The resolution calls for the updating and adjustment of a framework agreement and two cooperation agreements that determine the status of the federated state diplomats and the role of the Belgian federated states in the EU and other international organisations.
In accordance with the "in foro interno, in foro externo" principle, the federated entities are also authorized to act internationally for their internal material competences, such as education or the environment.
This representation on European and international forums is currently laid down in agreements between the federal government and the federated entities that are almost thirty years old and date from 1994 and 1995.
Belgium, Flanders and the EU
"Due to successive state reforms and international and European treaty changes, these agreements are outdated and no longer adapted to the internal Belgian division of competences, let alone to the changing reality in the EU and other international organizations," says Vanlouwe.
As a result, the federated states are sometimes represented at European or international level by federal diplomats, even if it concerns regional competences.
The resolution calls for a revision of the cooperation agreements.
"Belgium will become president of the Council of the European Union during the first semester of 2024. At that time the current cooperation agreements will be 30 years old. It would be a good signal that our country will finally succeed in adapting the outdated agreements", says Brouwers.
An update of the current agreements should ensure that Flanders is more often represented at the European table.
"The European Union and international institutions are playing an increasingly important role in many areas of competence," says Tommelein. "As a region with its own competences, Flanders must be able to actively participate in the development of that European and international policy. The renewed agreements that we want to make with the federal and other governments will lead to less compartmentalization of our international action," he says.
© BELGA PHOTO (DIRK WAEM) Flemish Parliament in Brussels