A total of 1,867 job appointments had to be scrapped in 2020 because the final decision was in breach of language laws, opposition party N-VA concludes based on the annual report of the region’s vice-governor.
But while an appointment was ruled illegal according to the laws, the actual job appointment was only rarely upheld by the Brussels regional government, according to Cieltje Van Achter, head of the N-VA fraction in the Brussels parliament.
Legally, the Brussels region is bilingual, which means that both French and Dutch have equal standing according to the law. Any Brussels resident can choose to be treated by the authorities either in French or in Dutch.
At the same time, however, the public authorities themselves are overwhelmingly French-speaking, and while one official may be technically competent in Dutch, it is not always the case that they are in fact. At the same time, bodies such as the police or hospital staff only have to be half-and-half on paper: in general, Dutch speakers have difficulty being treated in their own language.
The same rules, incidentally, apply to foreigners. A German person who has learned Dutch has as much right to be treated in that language as a Flemish-born person. Dutch speakers, moreover, may be in the minority, but that is where legal protection is most needed.
“Language discrimination is not getting any attention from this government, which is nevertheless constantly talking about combating discrimination,” said Van Achter.
The party is now demanding that the report of the vice-governor be brought to the attention of the region’s council of ministers.
“We notice that the majority of the Brussels public authorities deliberately refuse to make any efforts to do something about the deficient bilingual services,” Flemish MP Annabel Tavernier told Bruzz.
The Huis van het Nederlands, the Brussels school that offers Dutch classes at various levels in the language to promote the bilingual status of the city, also offers its services to the municipalities that make up the region and the capital.
“But figures that I recently requested from Flemish minister for Brussels Benjamin Dalle (CD&V) show that only five out of nineteen Brussels municipal authorities have made use of this offer since 2015,” Tavernier said.
“Flanders lends the Brussels municipalities a helping hand, but the municipalities themselves have to be willing.”