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October 25, 2013

English should be Brussels' official language - Flemish minister

Euractiv reports on an education minister's suggestion in Brussels that the Belgian and EU capital should make English its official language.

If Brussels aspires to be an international city, it should make English its official language, the Flemish minister for education Pascal Smet has told EurActiv.

“For the next twenty years, English will dominate as a global language. It is the language of the political world, of the diplomatic world, the tourism sector,” Smet told EurActiv on the margins of the launch of a project to boost multilingual education in the Belgian and EU capital.

The Flemish minister of education spoke at the launch of the so-called Marnix Plan for a multilingual Brussels, a bottom-up project to promote language learning in the Belgian capital, giving priority to French, Dutch and English.

“If Brussels wants to be an international city, it should go even further and declare English as an official language of the city,” Smet said.

Figures cited in the Marnix Plan show that 63.2% of Brussels inhabitants are native speakers of French, while less than 20% are Dutch natives. Just 2.5% have English as their mother tongue, but 29.7% of people living in the city claim to speak English well or very well.

“What I’d like to see is everyone that lives in Brussels speaking at least one common language, and that language could be English,” Smet said.

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