Only 4.4% of the Flemish functionaries who work in Brussels also live in the capital, according to Benjamin Dalle, the Flemish government minister for Brussels.
Dalle (CD&V was responding to a parliamentary question from Annabel Tavernier (N-VA), a member of the Flemish parliament who happens to live in Schaerbeek. As well as Brussels itself, Dalle is also minister for the Flemish periphery around the city, where many of the officials in question live.
“It is very important to keep on encouraging the idea of Brussels as a residential city for the Flemish,” Tavernier said. “That way we safeguard the nature of Brussels as a Dutch-speaking capital city. And of course it is also better for the problem of road congestion.”
In 2018, some 25,000 people left Brussels to go to live in Flanders, mainly in the periphery. Another 15,000 left to go and live in Wallonia. At the same time, 15,000 people from Flanders moved to Brussels. The numbers fleeing the city are not solely a matter for Flanders, but the region has a large number of ex-Brussels residents, many of whom have kept their jobs in the city, where the Flemish government is based.
A report by Bruzz suggested the tide – what the media referred to as the Bruxodus – was made up of mainly young families confronted by high rents and property prices, air quality, a general reluctance of people to speak Dutch or even acknowledge it as a statutory language, and the lack of facilities for young families. Also of importance – the shortage of pre-school and school places, which drives young families towards the periphery where schools are almost all Dutch-speaking.
The questions facing functionaries are not the same as those facing young families, but both Tavernier and Dalle point out that not only the Brussels region but also the Flemish government have a duty to make Brussels more attractive to their own staff.
“We won’t be leaving the matter here,” Tavernier promised. “We will look into it further, together with the Brussels region, to see what can be done. We have to make the best use of the bridging function that Dalle has.”