Brussels minister-president pleads for changes to language laws

Rudi Vervoort, minister-president of the Brussels-Capital Region, has called for a thorough review of the language laws of the region.

At present, the region is nominally equal French-Dutch, although the proportions are something closer to 90-10%. Vervoort himself is bilingual, although he represents a French-speaking party and is himself originally French-speaking.

Vervoort, originally the mayor of Evere, was asked a question by two Dutch-speaking members of the city council following a report by the region’s vice-governor which pointed out a record number of employees of the region’s personnel who had been rejected on language grounds.

It is not entirely clear in which direction the vice-governor’s report points, but incidental reporting points to the fact that the majority of institutional staff who speak both languages are originally Dutch-speaking; Flemish people are more likely to speak French than the other way round. Furthermore, a Dutch-speaking functionary, according to Brussels Times research, is much more likely to be able to speak English, regardless of language laws.

Vervoort, meanwhile, appears to intend to change the language laws in Brussels to reflect the laws in Brussels, which are part of the Constitution, in such a way as such to tilt the balance towards French.

“This is plainly a scandal,” said N-VA member Liesbet Dhaene, who filed the original question. The Brussels government has shown its unwillingness, she said, to employ Dutch-speaking officials not only in the city itself, but also in the region.

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