De Wever sends document that will form the basis for negotiations for the formation of a new Flemish Government

The Flemish nationalist party N-VA has published a document drafted by its leader Bart De Wever that will form the basis for the opening of negotiations on the formation of a new Flemish Government. The document has been sent to the Flemish liberals and Flemish Christian democrats, but not to the far-right party Vlaams Belang. VRT News has read the document and flandersnews.be provides you with a summary of the most important points contained in it.    

The note begins with a proposal for measures to help a further 120,000 find a job.

The aim is to bring the employment rate (ratio of those in employment to the working age population) up to 80%. In 2018 74.6% of Flemings between the age of 20 and 64 were working.   

Migration and integration

In the document much emphasis is placed on measures concerning migration and the integration of new-comers. If the Flemish nationalists get their way it will become more difficult for new-comers to be able to benefit from social provision. The document reads “Those that want to benefit from Flemish social protection and other social provision must have lived continually and legally in the country for five years and have become involved in our Flemish community”.   

Newcomers with children will have to wait for 6 months before they become entitle to child benefit. Those wishing to become a tenant in social housing will first be screened to check whether they own property abroad.  

The integration courses given by the Integration agency will no longer be free of charge and their criteria will become stricter. At the end of the course newcomers with have to take an “integration test” and sign “a Flemish participation declaration”. The integration course will include a section about Flemish culture and history.

Following a proposal by Liesbeth Homans (nationalist), religious communities seeking official recognition will first have to go through a trial period of five years during which they will have to show that they don’t have extremist tendencies and don’t receive funding from abroad.    

Furthermore, all newcomers that are of working age will be obliged to enrol with the Flemish Employment and Vocational Training Service VDAB. The above mentioned proposals appear to be a signal to Vlaams Belang voters. The far-right party was the big winner in the elections on 26 May.  

Education

With regard to education, the document proposes toughening the list of capacities a pupil should have acquired before leaving school. There should be regular tests carried out in all education networks.

The distinction between General, Technical, Professional and Special education should remain. The nationals say in the document that they are for “excellent education”.     

"Flemish state reform"

The document also proposes encouraging more municipalities to merge in order to enable the abolition of the provinces in 2024. Members of the Flemish Parliament are also to be encouraged to think about reducing the number of MPs in the parliament from the current 124.

The document also calls for responsibility for justice from the federal to the Flemish.    

However, some of these proposals could not be realised without state reforms carried out at a federal level. 

Climate and energy

As regards measures to help combat climate change the document makes a number on concrete proposals.  

These include 10,000 hectares of extra woodland by 2030. Four national parks and sustainable means of transport constituting half of all vehicles in Antwerp and Ghent.  

The so-called “concrete stop” has been shelved and replaced with the “building shift”. Energy bills must remain affordable. The issue of litter needs to be addressed. However, no mention is made of introduction of a deposit system on bottles and can.