Deadlock on future of Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde
28 April 2005
BRUSSELS – Belgium’s Dutch speaking and Francophone political parties are still bitterly divided over the question of whether a Brussels electroal district should remain officially bi-lingual or become Dutch speaking only.
On Thursday, news agency Belga reported that a parliamentary session designed to help settle the question of Brussels-Hal-Vilvorde broke down into “the greatest confusion”.
Flemish politicians are demanding the bilingual commune is redesignated as a part of Flanders, which would mean francophone political candidates could not stand in elections there.
Many French speaking politicians are arguing for a compromise solution or for political territory in return for giving up the commune.
At Wednesday’s meeting of the Interior Commission, Flemish parties claimed the agenda, which allowed eight speakers to address the parliament, was not what they had previously agreed.
They also wanted the commission to agree to extend the next debate on the matter scheduled for next Tuesday.
Commission president Andre Frederic, a French speaking socialist (PS) refused their requests, leading Flemish Christian Democrat (CD&V) group leader Pieter De Crem to accuse the francophone socialist of being nothing more than a puppet.
Extreme right-wing party Vlaams Belang walked out of the debate.
Finance Minister Didier Reynders and Budget and Public Enterprise Minister Johan Vande Lanotte, who are jointly responsible for institutional reforms, were both present at the session but refused to address the MPs.
They had no breakthrough on the matter to announce since a meeting of key government ministers and party presidents the evening before also failed to reach a consensus.
Speaking to the press, Reynders, who leads the francophone centre-right Mouvement Reformateur, said he felt all the parties shared the opinion that it was worthwhile reaching an agreement on a solution that could satisfy both the French-speaking and Flemish communities.
However, he added that the CD&V’s stance was certainly not that of people who were looking for consensus.
He said meetings between all the parties would continue on Thursday and Friday in an effort to strike a deal before next week.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian news