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Belgium: Flemish government cuts ties with the Minorities Forum

The Minderheden Forum - one of Belgium's major ethnic and cultural organisations - will no longer advise the Flemish government on integration matters. As a result, it will lose significant funding. The Flemish Minister of Social Affairs, Bart Somers, argued that the organisation does not match the new government's norms.

The Flemish government will from now on be working hand in hand with a new organisation: Join.Vlaanderen. "Instead of maintaining existing structures, I want to work with new people to get things moving", the Minister explained. He said the decision is meant to allow more people of foreign descent to feel effectively represented. According to the statutes, Join.Vlaanderen was only established as an association on 28 September 2020, shortly before the application deadline.

Join.Vlaanderen brings together young people with migrant roots to think about how they can reach more young people (with COVID-19 guidelines, for example). They rely on various partners, such as universities, research centers and local associations.

Newspapers as well as opposition parties are claiming the decision results from the nationalist party N-VA's influence. In October 2019, the new Flemish government announced some changes regarding cultural funding: cultural initiatives would have to be in line with the Flemish cultural identity, and communicating in Flemish would be compulsory for receiving funds.

Opposition party PVDA stated that 20 years of experience is "now being replaced by an organisation that, for the time being, only exists on paper and which focuses on everyone's own responsibility instead of on eradicating racism and discrimination from our society."

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