Participants debate the space accorded to Belgium’s minorities

The Forum of Federations recently held a Global Dialogue roundtable in Brussels where participants discussed policy matters central to the issue of federalism and diversity in Belgium.

In particular, participants evaluated the implementation of bicultural policies in the capital city of Brussels. They also discussed how the obligatory civic integration policy, called inburgering arose in the north of the country, while nothing similar is to be found in the south.

Always a thorny issue, participants also grappled with the status and protection of linguistic minorities, as well as the status of so-called ‘new’ minorities created as a result of more recent immigration.

Also debated were issues associated with making the county’s institutions more representative in character. This issue was of particular relevance to Belgium, which at the time of the event, had been without a new government since the general election of 10 June 2007.

However, the matter has since been resolved after a nine-month stalemate. The Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported on March 18, 2008, that five of the country’s political parties had agreed on a power-sharing arrangement.

The roundtable, was co-coordinated by Professors Frank Delmartino from the Centre for Peace Research and Strategy and Hugues Dumont from the Facultés Universitaires Saint-Louis, Brussels. It was held Feb. 22, 2008.

The event was well attended by practitioners from the various communities and orders of government. Practitioners of note were :

* Benjamin Cadranel, Head of Cabinet, Government of the Brussels-Capital Region
* Christos Doulkeridis, President of the Francophone Parliament in Brussels, Member of the Brussels Regional Parliament,
* Denis Grimberghs, Group leader, Brussels Regional Parliament, Member of the French Community Parliament and
* Leonhard Neycken, representative, Ministry of the German-speaking community.

The other participants were Isabelle Dirkx, Luc Martens, Frank Delmartino, Astrid Van Der Haegen, Christine Horevoets, Nicolas Bonbled, Dirk Vanheule, Karl-Heinz Lambertz, Eva Brems, Sébastien Van Drooghenbroeck, Hugues Dumont, Marie-Claire Foblets, Laurence Gallez, David Haljan, Jan Velaers, Christian Behrendt, Pierre-Olivier De Broux, Xavier Delgrange, Dave Sinardet, Wim Moesen and Magali Verdonck.

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