Looking back on the “Brussels welcomes” debate

Published on
Thu, 22/05/2014 - 17:23

“Brussels welcomes” was a success. Eight Brussels politicians entered into debate with each other in French and Dutch. We listed their most striking statements. Be sure to watch our photos on Facebook and the video clips.

On the occasion of 10 years of integration, bon organised a debate on integration. Politicians of both language communities entered into a debate in a jam-packed Beursschouwburg.

The ladies and gentlemen of N-VA, FDF, Open vld, MR, Groen, SP.a , Ecolo and CD&V got the following questions: What does integration mean in Brussels? What is the role of the municipalities and OCMW’s? Is integration an out-dated concept? How does the VGC see the coordination role within the EVA? Should integration be mandatory or voluntary? Is Brussels indeed a special case, or do politicians make it more difficult than it is?

The debate was interspersed with clips of bon employees Jalloh and Farah, a couple of more intimate chair talks with the moderator and two texting polls with the audience.

12% of the attendees did not know whom they would vote for before the debate. After the debate this number was down to 1%. 65% of the attendees favoured a compulsory integration course.

Khadija Zamouri (Open Vld)

  • My parents have never taken an integration course. They have been socially disadvantaged all their lives because of their lack of language skills. We absolutely have to make people independent, with a small push in the back to allow them to take it from there.
  • It is the duty of the minister to work transversally. Bourgeois has failed with regard to integration.

Alain Maron (Ecolo)

  • We want a “reception programme”, not an “integration programme”. It might seem like there is a consensus between the Brussels politicians, but that is not the case. What is the purpose of integration? The intended end result is not the same for all parties.
  • There is a need for a substantive cooperation agreement between the communities: “The communities have to find each other in Brussels”.

Brigitte Grouwels (CD&V)

  • Multilingualism has to be the goal for all young people in Brussels. Nobody speaking two languages (Dutch and French) is unemployed in Brussels.
  • We have to build on what the communities are already doing for integration in Brussels. The GGC/COCOM has to develop a comprehensive system and serve as a gateway for the integration policy in Brussels.

Alexia Bertrand (MR).

  • We are not all on the same page on the French-speaking side. MR has been asking for an “integration programme” for ten years, emphasising “integration” and not “reception” or “assimilation”.
  • An obligation becomes interesting when it is emancipatory. This goes for education as well as integration.

Bernard Clerfayt (FDF)

  • “The question is not which language we speak at home, the question is if we are capable to integrate well into society.” Not everyone has to speak two languages.
  • We want the work of the existing Dutch and French-speaking NPOs and their expertise to be valorised.

Elke Van den Brandt (Groen)

  • We do not wish to make language a prerequisite for other rights (like social housing or jobs in the public sector).
  • Let us make integration a Brussels story, tailored to the inhabitants of Brussels.

Liesbeth Polspoel (sp.a)

  • If young people of foreign origin claim their own place, integration can be called a success. But I don’t think we have come that far yet, there is still a lot of discrimination.
  • Integration should be organised regionally, embedded within the GGC/COCOM.

Karl Vanlouwe, (N-VA)

  • In Flanders, integration has been mandatory for 10 years. In Brussels it has not. These have been 10 lost years. Fortunately, the COCOF also prefers the mandatory path.
  • The mandatory nature is of primary importance to us. In practice, integration can be organised from within both communities.