Promised compulsory civic integration in Brussels is not forthcoming

13 May 2020

No new deadline has yet been set for making Civic integration Flanders has a policy for civic integration. This is a guided and targeted form of social integration for people of foreign origin. The intention is that the newcomers are provided with a valuable place in society by including them instead of excluding them. Civic integration, which includes language lessons and civic integration courses, was brought about by the participation of the N-VA in the Flemish Government since 2004 and the appointment of a Minister for Civic Integration. civic integration programmes in Brussels compulsory. The N-VA discovered this in the Commission on Home Affairs, Equal Opportunities and Civic Integration. “Brussels is the second most diverse city in the world after Dubai and really needs a comprehensive civic integration policy.”

Flanders has had a compulsory civic integration programme for newcomers since 2004. At the end of the previous legislative term, the Flemish Community, the French Community Commission (COCOF) and the Common Community Commission (COCOM) concluded a cooperation agreement to make civic integration compulsory in Brussels as well. The compulsory civic integration programmes were promised to start on 1 January 2020, but Brussels Minister Alain Maron (Ecolo) postponed the entry into force for an indefinite period due to their being “impracticable”. There is no new start date as yet.

Five months after the set start date

The N-VA thinks this is incomprehensible. “This way, the start of compulsory civic integration will continue to be postponed. It is now almost five months after the start date initially set, and we still have no way of gaining insight into how and when compulsory civic integration will come into effect. It is crucial that a timeline is put in place as soon as possible so that we can follow up on its implementation.”

Procrastination to the detriment of Brussels

Given the extraordinary context of the coronavirus crisis, the N-VA understands the postponement, but at the same time, warns that Brussels Minister Maron cannot hide behind the coronavirus. “If everything had gone according to plan, compulsory civic integration would have been launched before the outbreak of this health crisis, and the services would now have had more room to focus on other matters. Because of the coronavirus crisis, the procrastination of the COCOM Board now has the negative effect that it will probably take much longer before compulsory civic integration in Brussels becomes a reality. This is to the detriment of our capital.”

Flanders can help

The N-VA also thinks it is high time that the COCOM Board produces specific reasons why it did not meet the 2020 date and where the problem lies today: “Flanders can help solve these problems more quickly. For example, Flanders is already assisting with the setting up of Brussels registration systems by sharing expertise on the Flemish Crossroads Bank for Integration (CBI). The next consultation between the Flemish and COCOM services will take place on 14 May.”

Just like Dubai

Finally, the N-VA insists on continuing to raise Flemish concerns about the entry into force of compulsory civic integration. “The project really is too important to be put on the back burner. Brussels is the second most diverse city in the world after Dubai and really needs a comprehensive civic integration policy.”

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