Name change for Antwerp Province?

The three parties that make up the Flemish coalition government have called to change the name of Antwerp Province. The Flemish nationalists, liberals and Christian democrats suggest changing the province’s name to Middle-Brabant.

Historically, the provinces of Flemish and Walloon Brabant, Antwerp Province and the Dutch Province of North Brabant formed part of the Duchy of Brabant.

The boundaries present provinces are more or less the same as those of the “départements” created by the French when they conquered what had been the Austrian Netherlands in 1794. In 1831 the constitution of newly independent Belgium confirmed the position of the provinces.

In 1839 half of Limburg was returned to the Netherlands and half of Luxemburg Provinces became the Grand Dutch of Luxemburg as part of a peace agreement with the Netherlands.

With the exception of a few municipalities that changed province for linguistic reasons in the 1960’s and the division of Brabant Province in the 1990’s the provincial boundaries have remained unchanged ever since.

The Flemish coalition parties say changing Antwerp province’s name would be the logical conclusion of its plans to allow Antwerp and Ghent to leave their respective provinces. If the city of Antwerp were no longer part of Antwerp Province a new name would have to be found.

Three members of the Flemish Parliament that are also Mayors in their respective municipalities: Kris Van Dijck (Nationalist), Koen Van den Heuvel (Christian democrats), Bart Somers (liberal) say that the most logical new name would by Middle Brabant.

"A historical reference that much better reflects the diversity of our region than the name of the biggest Flemish city.”

The three politicians say that any new name should be adopted as soon as the City of Antwerp leaves the province. They intend to use the forthcoming parliamentary debate on local government to discuss the name issue.

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