Flanders and Germany strengthen ties during state visit


The Flemish parliament hosted German leaders this week at meetings that served to renew pledges to collaborate on economic and cultural fronts

Frontier infrastructure crucial

The Flemish parliament received representatives from Germany this week to renew a pledge to give the country the same priority in Flemish foreign policy as that received by the Netherlands. That includes political representation in Berlin, as well as commercial representation in Berlin, Stuttgart and Cologne.

Flanders accounts for 84% of Belgian exports to Germany, making the country the region’s most important trading partner. Flanders sold goods and services in 2015 worth €51 billion, an increase of 2.8% over 2014. Germany accounts for 17% of Flemish exports in all, and provides 5.5% of all German imports.

Welcoming the guests, minister-president Geert Bourgeois stressed the importance of good cross-border relations with the German regions, in particular with North Rhine-Westphalia, which alone takes one-third of Flemish exports to Germany.

Frontier infrastructure is crucial to the economies of the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam, he said, as well as the development of the German port of Duisburg.

At the same time, bilateral relations offer multiple opportunities for both sides. A first inter-governmental meeting with North Rhine-Westphalia in December last year was a good start, he said, and meetings with other regions would follow. This week saw representatives of the region of Bavaria make an official visit to Flanders.

Bourgeois also stressed the importance of both sides getting to know each other’s language and culture, with the teaching of German in Flemish schools and cultural co-operation such as this year’s joint guest-of-honour status at the Frankfurt Book Fair by Flanders and the Netherlands.

Photo: Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois and his counterpart in the North Rhine-Westphalia, Hannelore Kraft

©Monika Skolimowska/BELGA

Government of Flanders

Belgium is a federal state with several regional governments. The northern, Dutch-speaking region of Flanders is governed by the Flemish government, which was created when the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community joined forces in 1980. A minister-president presides over the government of Flanders, and Brussels is the capital city.
Competences - The government of Flanders is responsible for the economy, foreign trade, health care, energy, housing, agriculture, environmental concerns, public works and transport, employment policy, culture, education and science and innovation. Flanders also has the power to sign international treaties in these competencies.
Sole legislator - The powers of the Flemish government and of the federal government do not overlap. Therefore, only one government serves as legislator for each policy area. Flemish laws are called decrees. Decrees apply in co-ordination with federal laws.
Official holiday - 11 July is the official holiday of the Flemish Community, in commemoration of the Battle of the Golden Spurs in Kortrijk on 11 July 1302, when Flemings defeated the army of the French king. Flanders’ official anthem is “De Vlaamse Leeuw” (The Flemish Lion).

million people live in the Flemish Region.


provinces constitute the Flemish Region: West Flanders, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant, Antwerp and Limburg.


number of years for which the Flemish Parliament is elected. Its elections coincide with those of the European Parliament.