“People that don’t learn Dutch should not be given benefits”

The Minister responsible for policy relating to the Flemish municipalities adjacent to Brussels Ben Weyts (nationalist) has called for those that don’t make an effort to learn Dutch to lose their entitlement to benefits handed out by the Flemish authorities. Mr Weyts was speaking as the results of a new survey into language use in the municipalities that are peripheral to Brussels shows that knowledge of Dutch (the official language) has fallen back slightly.  Mr Weyts told journalists “Those that don’t make an effort to learn Dutch should be no longer able to get Flemish benefits. We will give up on the Francophones in the Rand (the municipalities that surround Brussels) that have given up on us”.           



The so-called “Language Barometer” looks into language use in the Flemish Brabant municipalities around Brussels on behalf of the Flemish Government.

In its latest report the Language Barometer showed that the number of people in the area that speak good Dutch has fallen by 1.1% from 69.6% to 68.5%. The fall has come about manly due to an increase in the percentage of non-Dutch-speaking Belgians living in Flemish municipalities just outside Brussels that are unable to speak Dutch well or have no knowledge of the language at all.  5 years ago 77.5% of the Belgians living in the area that spoke another language than Dutch at home said that they were proficient in the language. In this year’s survey this had fallen back to 76.3%.    

Mr Weyts is not happy with the figures “20% of the Francophone Belgians don’t speak a word of Dutch and show no affinity with the local Flemish community. If people give up on our community, we will also give up on them”.   

Mr  Weyts adds that this all begs the question of whether Belgians that live in Flanders but don’t have a command  of Dutch should still be entitled to unemployment benefit of  other social benefit payments. “It’s a question of give and take”.

Meanwhile, the percentage of non-Belgians living in the Flemish Brabant municipalities that are adjacent  to Brussels that can speak Dutch is 24.5%, 10 percentage points more than in 2014. However, this is still far lower than the percentage of Francophone Belgians living in the area that are proficient in Dutch.  Nevertheless, Mr Weyts still says that “Non-Belgians are better Belgians than Francophone Belgians, as they are always more prepared to learn Dutch”.  



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