Multilingualism begins with respect for bilingualism

9 December 2019

“For the N-VA, respect for statutory bilingualism is the starting point for the multilingualism of our capital.” The N-VA group in the Brussels Parliament has reservations about the “Multilingualism 2019-2024” note by Brussels minister Sven Gatz. “We find some of the proposed approaches to achieve multilingualism counter-productive.”

Respect of bilingualism

On Monday, minister Gatz (Open VLD) presented his “Multilingualism 2019-2024” note to the Brussels Parliament. The central objective here is that all Brussels 18-year-olds must be trilingual. The N-VA wants to give its support to the goal, but has reservations after reading the “Multilingualism 2019-2024” note. “We are very satisfied that the debate on language in Brussels will be carried out extensively and that we can discuss with our French-speaking colleagues how to strengthen the knowledge of Dutch, French and English. However, we find some of the proposed approaches counter-productive and the respect of bilingualism in the public services is not even proposed.”

No ambition

For the N-VA, respect for statutory bilingualism is the starting point for the multilingualism of our capital. “The language legislation is not about structures, but about people who are confronted every day with language discrimination in the municipal services, police and hospitals. The Brussels government is in a position to intervene against the flagrant violations of language legislation, but it refuses to demand that that essential pillar of Brussels is enforced. The note has no ambition whatsoever to achieve results quickly in this regard. Everyone has to become multilingual, but apparently services can continue to be provided just in French.”

Solutions for Brussels youngsters

The N-VA is also concerned by a number of priorities in the note. “Increased respect for the language spoken at home, bilingual teacher training or the regionalisation of education offer no solutions that will make the youngsters of Brussels multilingual. The Flemish and French-speaking municipalities must (continue to) prioritise strong language education in Brussels. The exchange of teachers of Dutch and French can certainly help. For Dutch-language education in Brussels, the focus must remain on the first and largest challenge: a good knowledge of the language used at school: Dutch.”

We therefore hope that this note is a start to getting the language debate up and running in Brussels - also with the French-speaking parties -, but it can in no way mean an end point for the N-VA.

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