The last ever “Gordel”?

According to Head of the Flemish Sport Agency (Bloso) Carla Galle, Sunday’s 30th Gordel could be the last ever. The Gordel (belt) was set up to underline the Flemish character of the region around Brussels. The walking and cycling event was held for the first time in 1981 in and around the village of Sint-Genesius-Rode. Gradually it grew into one of Europe’s largest mass sporting events. Almost 70,000 people took part in last year’s Gordel.

Carla Galle told the dailies ‘Gazet van Antwerpen’ and ‘Het Belang van Limburg’ that the Gordel would become obsolete if an accord is reached between Belgium’s two biggest language communities on greater devolution and the partition of the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde constituency.

"The Gordel is a sporting event for all the family with musical performances.”

“However, it is also statement of Flanders’ commitment to the Flemish municipalities around Brussels.”

However, the Flemish Christian democrat MP Eric Van Rompuy disagrees.

Both Mr Van Rompuy and his brother, the Chairman of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, live in Flemish municipalities around Brussels.

Eric Van Rompuy is Alderman in Zaventem, while Herman Van Rompuy lives in Sint-Genesius Rode.

He told listeners to VRT Radio 2 that if he has anything to do with it, the 30th Gordel certainly won’t be the last.

"Some people believe that aim of the Gordel will have been reached once the Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde constituency is split."

"To some extent this is true."

"However, it would still remain the case that we would need to defend the Flemish character of the region around Brussel.”

“Francophones still have ambitions to expand Brussels to include these municipalities”, Mr Van Rompuy told listeners.

The Flemish Christian democrat MP concludes that “If the constituency is split it will be an important victory for the Flemings, but that doesn’t mean that would should not remain vigilant, as Francophone provocations aren’t going to stop"