Until now the integration courses were only obligatory in Flanders, but the Flemish integration minister Liesbeth Homans (Flemish nationalist) has reached agreement with the Brussels authorities. Newcomers will be obliged to follow a course on social orientation and a French or Dutch language course or risk a fine.
The courses will be obligatory for newcomers settling in Brussels who are under 65 years of age and haven't yet been living in Belgium for three years. They will be able to opt for integration courses from the Flemish integration agency or those organised by the Francophone community commission in Brussels. Those finishing the course successfully will be handed a diploma. Some 4,000 course places will be available annually.
Minister Homans says it's now up to municipalities to inform their citizens about compulsory integration courses and the need to meet this obligation. Newcomers who refuse to comply risk a 2,500 euro fine.
It took quite some time to reach an agreement on the compulsory nature of the measure in Brussels and Ms Homans is clearly pleased with the result: "An integration course is the first very important step towards integration and participation. I'm very pleased newcomers in Brussels too must follow a compulsory integration route."
The integration courses are not obligatory for citizens of the EU or the EEA.