During the opening ceremony for the Festival of the Iris (the flower that is the symbol for Brussels) on Saturday, co-President of the Ecolo party Zakia Khattabi called for the Brussels institutions to be simplified. She thinks the current set-up means they are not in touch with the population’s expectations and believes it would be better to have a single Parliament and a single government “that manages what directly and exclusively affects Brussels residents”.
Zakia Khattabi does admit that the current institutions (a Regional authority and three communal institutions, which each have their own Parliament and government) are the result of much compromise and long-term effort from the Region’s founding fathers. But she says residents don’t understand what they do and don’t identify with them.
“How are people supposed to understand the different policies implemented within the same area, for example those focusing on young children, young people, health, social politics and professional training?” she said. She was speaking at the open debate that kick-started the Brussels Regional fete’s academic conference. In her eyes, what helped the Region progress thirty years ago is exactly what is “suffocating” it today.
“The Ecolos think the institutions are just tools, a means to an end. We should worry less about their future and more about their capacity to serve the city’s vision and meet veritable needs. It is a democratic problem and it creates distance between residents and politicians”, says the Co-President of the Ecolo Party.
Zakia Khattabi also called on the new generation to step up and help move the Region towards recognising the diverse identities within the Brussels population. She wants to move away from belonging exclusively to one community (French or Dutch-speaking).