EU boss accused of backing Flemish nationalism

11th September 2011, Comments 4 comments

European Union President Herman Van Rompuy was accused Sunday of exceeding his powers in showing support for Belgium's Flemish nationalists at a politically-tinged bicycle rally.

Last weekend, Van Rompuy was photographed taking part with his family in the Gordel, an event organised each year by Flemish groups, which involves cycling through the capital Brussels, a mainly French-speaking city in the middle of Dutch-speaking Flanders.

Van Rompuy, who has sought to take a neutral stance on Belgium's internal identity politics, "was pedaling around Brussels with Flemish nationalist fanatics," Olivier Maingain, president of the Movement of Francophone Democratic Federalists told RTL television on Sunday.

He questioned whether it was right for Van Rompuy to be seen with people who hold nationalist views that are "contrary to the European ideal".

The event has often caused friction between Flemish participants and French residents of Brussels and its suburbs.

The reach of the Belgian capital's boundaries and the linguistic rights of francophones who live in its Flemish-speaking suburbs are at the heart of the ongoing political conflict between the country's two main linguistic groups.

The Dutch-speaking Flemish population in the north demand more autonomy for the region and the French-speaking south.

Belgium's politicians resumed talks last month to end a more than year-long political deadlock since elections in June 2010 failed to lead to the formation of a new government.

A Dutch speaking former Prime Minister, Van Rompuy is a member of the Flemish Christian Democratic party.

© 2011 AFP

4 Comments To This Article

  • J.M. posted:

    on 16th September 2011, 16:07:16 - Reply

    Please explain where is the "disinformation" in the article above...

    Maingain is everything but a racist or an anti-flemish person, i believe the flemish minority in the commune he's governing is rather happy about him!

    The "gordel" is a nationalist gathering to remember french-speaking persons living in the communes around brussels that they aren't welcomed.
    I never heard maingain insulting any flemish! But we've all heard flemish nationalists saying "wallons rats" or "die belgium".
  • Jan Verselder posted:

    on 15th September 2011, 18:37:58 - Reply

    International "press" blatantly printing the anti-flemish propaganda of racist leader of the FDF (front des francophones) is the main reason this "country" needs to be split urgently
  • David Baeckelandt posted:

    on 14th September 2011, 14:28:22 - Reply

    By printing this article - popularising the rubbish that spews out of Mangain's mouth - and the tilt you put on it, you show yourselves to not be reporters but Mangain's mouthpieces. I wasn't aware that Expatica was a part of the FDF.
  • Jean Destrooper posted:

    on 12th September 2011, 22:11:21 - Reply

    That's what we call "disinformation". Awful.