The Social Affairs Committee for the Brussels Joint Community Commission yesterday (Wednesday) gave the green light, by majority vote, to a new draft order. This aims to make the integration programme for newly-arrived immigrants in the Brussels region compulsory.
Subject to being adopted in a plenary sitting, and the conclusion of cooperation agreements with the French Community Commission and the Flemish Community Commission, this will be incorporated into law.
It provides that all foreign adults under 65, staying in Belgium for less than three years, and holding their first residence permit exceeding three months, must undertake this programme.
The Brussels government hopes that this will start from next year.
The programme comprises an individualised social assessment, language classes (French or Dutch) and citizenship classes. These will, in particular, be made up of information around the operation of public institutions, core democratic values and social relationships within Belgian Society.
These courses will equally be inspired by the underlying principles of Brussels integration policy. These are equality for all people, respect for each person’s individual character, skills and ambition, migration as an opportunity for society, anti-discrimination and the fight against racism and sexism. Of equal importance are the principles of active citizenship and empowerment of specific target groups, as well as the acquisition of knowledge in French or Dutch.
Each commune will be responsible for informing the given newly-arrived immigrant of the obligation to undertake this programme and of the providers organising the course.
Administrative sanctions are anticipated, in the event of refusal to follow this programme. They will rise over time and reach, in the most extreme cases, 2,500 euros. They will increase by 100-euro increments.
Currently, the French Community Commission and the Flemish Community Commission are financing the providers delivering these programmes.
The Brussels government ministers, Céline Fremault and Pascal Smet, have been given a formal Brussels government mandate to negotiate the clauses of a necessary cooperation agreement with the French Community Commission and the Flemish Community Commission.