26 January 2005
BRUSSELS – Basic knowledge of Dutch will soon become compulsory for those seeking state-sponsored housing in Flanders.
The new language restriction will come into force in January 2006 but will not be applied to anyone with a job.
According to the Regional Housing Minister, Marino Keulen, from 2006, any unemployed person seeking special housing will be required to follow a Dutch course.
It will also not be applied to those already in state housing who do not speak Dutch.
The new law, just approved by the Flemish parliament, adds that every new resident will be subject to a two year trial period.
During this time, the Dutch course must be completed and housing candidates must be able to prove a basic knowledge of the language.
They will also be required to obey state housing rules and keep up with rent payments.
The plans have already come under fire from Wallonian Housing Minister Andre Antoine, who said it revealed how racist tendencies were infiltrating the Flemish administration.
Antoine has threatened a legal challenge, claiming the proposal undermines the rights of French-speakers and breaches the equality rights laid down in the Belgian Constitution.
[Copyright Expatica 2005]
Subject: Belgian News