French-speaking Belgian parties propose a Wallonia-Brussels federation

The first meetings between Walloon parties will be held this week ahead of the second phase of state reforms · The French-speaking community is debating how to adapt the federal structure to linguistic communities.

Belgium’s French-speaking parties, based in the regions of Wallonia and Brussels, have already begun discussions with a view to adopting a unitary position on a second package of state reforms, which must be debated and approved before 15 July.

One of the first suggestions to emerge last week was the proposal to create a Wallonia-Brussels federation, the two regions with a majority of French-speakers. Rudy Demotte, Minister-President of both the Walloon Region and the French Community, and Charles Picqué, Minister-President of the Brussels Region, proposed creating a new regional institution that would represent the interests of the French-speaking community.

Most of the Flemish parties have already reacted against this proposal. Kris Peeters, Minister-President of the Flemish Region, was adamant that “Flanders would not give up Brussels”. Bart de Wever, president of Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie (New Flemish Alliance), said that the proposal was an attempt to “incorporate Brussels into French-speaking Belgium”, reported Flanders Today.

A new party and a new name
Only last week a new party emerged on the Brussels political scene. Probruxsel defines itself as a Brusselian regionalist party, criticises the main parties for ignoring the Region of Brussels and says that it is committed to bilingualism and plurilingualism.

Meanwhile, the leaders of Spirit, a party made up of Flemish liberal socialists, announced that the party’s name would be changing to VlaamsProgressieven (FlemishProgressives). They defined their party as the “only progressive Flemish party”, referring to other left-wing parties such as Groen! (Green!) and Socialistische Partij – Anders (Socialist Party – Different) as Belgian rather than Flemish parties. A former leader of the party, Bettina Geysen, told the media that VlaamsProgressieven would model itself on the English Liberal Democrats, Italian Radical Party and Scottish National Party.

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