The discussion about language legislation in Brussels has been a pain point in the political landscape for some time now. According to N-VA, the language laws have never been so bad as. The party bases this on the annual report of 2021 drawn up by the Brussels vice-governor. In 2021, as many as 2,100 people were illegally hired. That is an important one in history. Language freedom In private matters, everyone is free to use the language they want.…
The discussion about language legislation in Brussels has been a pain point in the political landscape for some time now. According to N-VA, the language laws have never been so bad as. The party bases this on the annual report of 2021 drawn up by the Brussels vice-governor. In 2021, as many as 2,100 people were illegally hired. That is an important one in history.
In private matters, everyone is free to use whatever language they want. It does not matter whether it is French, Dutch, German or any other language. Also at the occupational level originated in that freedom. For example, a vegetable seller can safely help his customer in German – whether that will go smoothly is another matter.
On a limited number of occasions, language freedom was restricted by the legislature, the most important of which was to ensure equality between Dutch and French speakers. This is the case, for example, in administrative matters, court cases, education, business and the recruitment of civil servants. Those restrictions were laid down in male legislation.
The Brussels vice-governor, Jozef Ostyn, is responsible, among other things, for supervising the documents of the language legislation in Brussels municipalities and PCSWs. Ostyn prepares a report every year. In 2021, according to his latest report, 2,100 people were hired in violation of language law. However, according to the N-VA, the Brussels government is doing nothing about the situation.
“Anyone who hoped that the creation of a new ministerial post for Multilingualism (Sven Gatz, Open Vld) would finally lead to better compliance with language legislation will be disappointed,” responds Cieltje Van Achter, N-VA parliamentary group leader in the Brussels-Capital Parliament. The deputy governor suspended 2,100 hires last year, again the government failed a single one. Year after year the documents of the language legislation deteriorate. It seems as if nothing really can happen to the ministers of Open Vld, Groen and Vooruit.’
Also Annabel Tavernier, Flemish Member of Parliament for the Brussels municipal authorities and government, lacks a social face. ‘Language legislation must ensure that everyone is helped in their own way by the government, the police and the hospital. It is a shame that you do not have that guarantee as a Fleming in your own capital. From the Flemish Government, we offer some opportunities for the Brussels municipalities to improve their knowledge of Dutch through, among other things, the House of Dutch. Ultimately, of course, it remains up to the municipalities themselves to grab it with both hands. When will they finally prove they mean business? When will they finally realize that we Flemish are full-fledged hamburgers?’
It is striking that many recruitments have been suspended by legislation. That too is not new. In 2021, N-VA concluded – also then based on the annual report of the governor (for the year 2020) – that 1,867 recruitments at the Brussels municipalities and CPAS were suspended.
After such a suspension decision, it is up to the Brussels government to annul the recruitment. “That always happens, let alone the deputy governor’s report is discussed within the government.” ‘Language discrimination receives no attention at all from this government, which is nevertheless talking about combating discrimination.’
“We note that the majority of Brussels public administrations are ready to provide something to do something about the language,” said Flanders. ‘The House of Dutch has an offer for the Brussels municipalities to improve the knowledge of Dutch among their staff. But figures that I recently requested from Flemish minister for Brussels Benjamin Dalle (CD&V) show that only five of the nineteen Brussels municipal authorities have made use of this offer since 2015. Flanders lends the Brussels municipalities a helping hand, but the municipalities themselves have to want to†
Not the first time
In 2021, the Brussels city council already rejected a motion by N-VA about compliance with language legislation in Brussels City when hiring municipal staff. Only Mathias Vanden Borre (N-VA), the petitioner, voted in favour. Eleven counselors abstained and thirty others voted against – including Dutch speakers.
N-VA attaches great importance to the content of the language legislation and its annex, even now its priority character. ‘Last year we passed a number of resolutions that required the government to take responsibility and comply with language legislation. Unfortunately, our resolution regarding the PCSWs was voted down at the beginning of this year, even by the Dutch-speaking parties’, says Van Achter. This summer, the majority will get a second chance. Then the parliament will act on our proposal to have the legislation complied with by the regional and municipal authorities. I am curious about how the colleagues from Groen, Open Vld and Vooruit will vote then.’
The purpose of the motives was to ensure that language legislation is being drafted. In practice, the 2020 annual reports and as shown, this is not done. This also applies in Brussels City in the nineteen Brussels municipalities.
The language legislation states that a government employee in Brussels must be bilingual, both Dutch and French. In practice, not even in one third of the fulfilled. Vanden Borre asked for change in 2021 with his movement. He wanted an effective plan, encouragement from officials and, if necessary, even a duty to attend language courses. Appointments of people who do not meet the conditions would no longer be possible. There was no change then, and no change today.