Bilingualism of high-ranking officials: GERFA requests involvement of coordination committee
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    Bilingualism of high-ranking officials: GERFA requests involvement of coordination committee

    GERFA (the Study and Reform Group for the Civil Service) is requesting that the governments of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation and the Walloon government make approaches to the coordination committee. This is to the “extent that French-speakers rights are seriously threatened by the draft royal decree.”

    The decree allows for the institution of operational bilingualism for high-ranking officials, GERFA made known on Saturday.

    “At the Council of Ministers held on October 20th, the New Flemish Alliance minister (Steven Vandeput, editor’s note) laid before the Council a draft royal decree fixing the review programme for language tests,” the trade union indicated in a communiqué.

    The trade union went on, “Managers, civil servants within analytical roles and civil servants working within in the courts department are obliged to take these tests, or indeed nearly 4,500 federal civil servants.”

    GERFA pursued, “The MR (Conservative-Liberals), the only French-speaking government party, has not moved a muscle and has let the project lapse.”

    It adds that this decree “spells the end of principles laid down in 1932, namely the unilingualism of agents allowing them to be recruited and to have a career in their own language, without any legal requirement to know another language.”

    GERFA goes on, “The bilingualism service requirement made it compulsory to organise services in such a way so as to respond to the users of two national languages.”

    It pursues, “The MR has proved itself incapable of maintaining the final barrier to change and accepted this ultimate concession.”

    GERFA continues, “This will prevent the majority of Walloons in the future (80% of all French-speakers) from going for executive positions within federal ministries.”

    The task force concludes that it is very much in this context, “and to the extent that the rights of French-speakers are severely threatened, that we are requesting the involvement of the coordination committee [to review this issue].”

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times