This is a reality that the Flemish authorities generally prefer to ignore, but it seems that the French language is gaining ground in Flanders to the point that in some communes, where there is no linguistic facility, French would be the first language.
Counting remains difficult since since 1961 there has been no official linguistic census. The Flemish political parties preferred to have it banned, given the growth in the use of French in Flanders. The linguistic border was then fixed definitively (?).
Growth of French
While some consider that the French language has lived in Flanders and that promoting the Francophonie in the North of the country is a rearguard struggle, the analysis of the data of ‘Kind en Gezin’, concerning the languages that the mothers use to raise their children, sheds a much different light“, can we read in the fall issue of “Nouvelles de Flandre”, organ of the Association for the promotion of the French-speaking world in Flanders (APFF).
In the absence of official figures, this association looked at lesson reports the “Child & Family”, the Flemish counterpart of ONE (the Office for Birth and Childhood).
The APFF notes that in ten municipalities of Flemish Brabant, French would come in first position: Leeuw-Saint-Pierre (59.1%), Beersel (48.7%), Dilbeek (48.6%), Zaventem (47 %), Machelen (43.9%), Overijse (43.9%), Tervuren (39.4%), Asse (38%), Vilvoorde (37.7%) and Grimbergen (37.2%).
This is rising in the six municipalities with facilities around Brussels: Linkebeek (78.6%), Drogenbos (76.6%), Wezembeek-Oppem (72.7%), Crainhem (69.9%), Rhode-Saint- Genesis (65%) and Wemmel (59.1%).
Still according to figures from “Kind & Gezin”, other municipalities have a strong French-speaking presence: near Antwerp, Willebroek (10.5%) or Ninove (15.7%), Aalst (15.4%), Zottegem (12%), etc.
The APFF recalls that the Flanders does not want to hear about a French-speaking minority on its territory, nor about linguistic discrimination. In fact, under pressure from Flemish nationalists, Belgium informed the UN that it did not accept Switzerland’s recommendation, made during the 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of our country, last May, to “ratify the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities”.
Belgium is regularly pinned down by the UN for non-compliance with the Framework Convention on the protection of minorities. A treaty signed by Belgium in 2001 but never ratified under pressure from Flanders.
During her last trip to the UN, Minister Wilmès had to explain herself again on this subject.