Expats will have to show they’ve learnt Dutch

International people who settle in Flanders and are obliged to follow Dutch language courses will at the end of their course have to show that they have obtained a certain level of Dutch. Until now expats from outside the EU were only obliged to take the course. This is one of the most striking planks of the new Flemish Government accord unveiled earlier on Wednesday.

The three centre-right parties that on Tuesday announced full agreement on an accord to govern Flanders for the next five years have provided details of their plans at a news conference in the Flemish Parliament on Wednesday.

The new coalition consists of Flemish nationalists, Christian democrats and liberals.

Flemish nationalist Geert Bourgeois is the new Flemish Prime Minister designate: "We're aiming at a balanced budget without an increase in taxes. This will require an effort from everybody. We're making this effort in order to be able to make investments."

"One of the big challenges is integration. We want an inclusive society."

At present people obliged to take language course merely have to attend the courses. In future, at the end, they will also have to show that they have achieved a certain level of Dutch.

Geert Bourgeois: "Also in Brussels we will continue our integration efforts in consultation with the Francophones."

On the cities: "Municipalities will be able to merge on a voluntary basis. Cities with over 200,000 inhabitants will get extra powers."

On mobility: "We are launching a large number of infrastructure works. Passengers will have to pay a larger share of the costs of the Flemish transport company De Lijn."

Outgoing Flemish Prime Minister Kris Peeters, who is now set to become the new Belgian Premier, spoke on behalf of the Christian democrats. He promised 93,000 new homes by 2020. On mortgages he said there would be no changes for existing mortgage holders, though a small change would now be introduced for new borrowers.

On education: "A new non-binding entrance exam can be introduced in higher education. We want to improve the quality of our education. A similar entrance exam for teacher training colleges will be introduced."

Liberal leader Gwendolyn Rutten: "We want people to be in work. We want to increase the employment rate to 76% by 2020. Within four months youngsters will be given a tailored approach. We will also help the elderly unemployed until they can retire."

The new government has plans to introduce a new Uitpas or Out Pass. Gwendolyn Rutten:" It will be a kind of cultural ID card for everybody in Flanders. Our motto is 'Keep it simple'. The number of structures will be cut."

The liberals also had news about the future of the VRT. In future the third TV channel OP12 will only be used to accommodate programems that can't fit into the schedule on the other two stations e.g. sports shows.