Flanders doubles agreements with North Rhine-Westphalia


The government of Flanders signed 17 co-operation agreements during a visit from authorities from the German region

Cross-border handshakes

Authorities with the government of Flanders, including the minister-president, met their counterparts from Germany’s North Rhine-Westphalia today in Brussels. The two regions have a strong working and trade relationship in many areas, including energy and transport.

“Today we strengthened our cross-border co-operation,” said Bourgeois. “Mobility, Europe, Brexit, energy transition, trilateral chemical strategy, language education and culture are prominent in our bilateral co-operation.”

The last meeting between the two regions was in 2015. By 2017, the North Rhine-Westphalia had become seventh biggest regional trading partner. Some one-fifth of Flanders’ exports to Germany go to the region.

“In 2015, we signed nine co-operation agreements, and this year it was 17,” said Bourgeois. “And we agreed to improve the port traffic connections between Flemish harbours and the North Rhine-Westphalia hinterland.”

‘Flemish week’ in Germany

Other agreements covered a number of areas such as cohesion policies on European level, more sustainable energy options, a focus on the German language in education (and vice-versa) and Industry 4.0, the process of automating and data exchange in manufacturing.

There is a “Flemish week” planned in North Rhine-Westphalia in March, which will bring together politicians, cultural players and business leaders. This will include an energy conference and a Port Day.

“Besides cultural highlights in Aken and Bonn, we will focus on a meaningful exchange of experience, knowledge and expertise,” said Bourgeois. “The 100th birthday of the Dutch language and literature department at Cologne University offers an outstanding opportunity to discuss language education.”

Bourgeois and members of the delegation will also visit NRW-Forum Düsseldorf, an international exhibition centre for photography, pop and digital culture. The venue is planning activities around the Flemish Masters and Flanders’ celebration of Peter Bruegel the Elder this year, the 450th anniversary of the painter’s death.

Photo: Geert Bourgeois welcomes Armin Laschet, the minister-president of the North Rhine-Westphalia
©Courtesy Geert Bourgeois/Twitter