The idea of having English as an official language in Brussels is not new and there are many reasons why this goal seems (politically and economically) legitimate. First of all, Brussels is the capital of the European Union, which means it is home to some of the most influental institutions (and people) in the world. It is also a global business hub and the main point of arrival for majority of (non-French and non-Dutch speaking) newcomers to Belgium. Being a multi-lingual and expats-loaded city is already a reality for Brussels, and English is widely spoken in many of the global and local businesses situated in the city-region.
However, the situation after Brexit has brought this question on the table again. Business leaders in Brussels are considering ways to attract companies from the UK, and having English as an official administrative language in the region would be a great incentive.
Jan De Brabanter (secretary general at the Brussels Chamber of Commerce) was speaking at an event organised by St John’s International School in Waterloo on the subject of Brexit’s impact on Belgium.
The Bulletin also reported on the story, noting that the idea had support from local businesses and many politicians in the Brussels region who saw a clear benefit from this initative. However, analysts agree that it would be very hard to achieve this goal, since all three regions in Belgium and the federal government would need to agree on the issue.
De Brabanter is quoted saying “We have to change a lot in Brussels. One of the topics we are dealing with right now – on a regional and federal level – is to make it possible that English could become an administrative language. That way we could attract UK businesses to the continent. If it would be possible to have people hired and offer them a contract in English it could be a benefit for everyone.”
If you are interested in Brexit’s impact on Brussels and Belgium, read the Bulletin’s story on What Brexit means for British expats in Belgium where you can learn more on the prospects for EU civil servants and holders of the EU’s special ID card.