Flanders opens new offices for General Representation to EU

Summary

A new General Representative will staff the offices charged with defending Flanders’ interests at the European level

‘Vision of the future’

The government of Flanders has opened a new office dedicated to its General Representation to the European Union on Belliardstraat in the EU quarter of Brussels. The offices were officially opened yesterday by minister-president Geert Bourgeois and General Representative Axel Buyse.

It’s only Buyse’s second month in the job; he replaced Julie Bynens, who was appointed the secretary-general of Flanders’ Department of Foreign Affairs last autumn. He’s not exactly new to the post, however: He served as the General Representative of Flanders to the EU previously, from 2008 to 2014.

Previous to becoming a diplomat, Buyse was a long-time journalist, including a five-year stint as world news editor at De Standaard.

The Flemish General Representation is part of the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU. While not every country has representatives to the EU at the regional level, in Belgium this is crucial as some interests – education and culture, for instance – are wholly the jurisdiction of the regional governments.

Flanders’ priorities and policies within the EU were set out in 2016 in the document “Vision of the Future of the European Union”, following the UK’s referendum to leave the union. “An increasing number of shared EU powers relate more to our powers as a federated state than they do to federal competences,” the document states. “In addition, in Belgium the biggest share of the EU budget goes to the federated states. So it is important for Flanders to strengthen its direct ties with the EU and for the government of Flanders as a whole to adopt a proactive EU reflex.”

Photo: The fully renovated Belliardstraat 65 office building is home to the General Representation of Flanders to the EU
©Nathalie Van Eygen/Herpain