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
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
Government of Flanders
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.