French Community of Belgium
|French Community of Belgium
Communauté française (French)
|Community of Belgium|
|• Executive||Government of the French Community|
|• Governing parties (2014–2019)||PS, cdH|
|• Minister-President||Rudy Demotte (PS)|
|• Legislature||Parliament of the French Community|
|• Speaker||Philippe Courard (PS)|
|Celebration Day||27 September|
|The Walloon flag was chosen as flag of the French Community of Belgium in 1975. It was adopted by the Walloon Region in 1998.|
In Belgium, the French Community (French: Communauté française), also controversially called the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (French: Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles), refers to one of the three constituent constitutional linguistic communities. This ambiguous term refers to Francophone Belgians, and not to Frenchmen residing in Belgium. As such, the French Community of Belgium is sometimes rendered in English as "the French-speaking Community of Belgium" for clarity.
Wallonia is home to 80% of all Francophone Belgians, with the remaining 20% residing in Brussels, which is the seat of parliament of the French Community.
Historically, this community spoke variants of Walloon, Flemish, Picard, Luxembourgish or Moselle Franconian German, but nowadays, the dominant language is overwhelmingly Belgian French, except for some areas alongside the border to the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg (mainly the district called Land of Arlon or Arelerland), where Luxembourgish is still widely spoken.
The French Community of Belgium includes 4.5 million people, of whom:
- 3.6 million live in the Walloon Region (that is almost the entirety of the inhabitants of this region, apart from people who live in the German-speaking communes, who number around 70,000);
- 900,000 living in the Brussels-Capital Region (out of 1.1 million inhabitants).
French speakers who live in the Flemish Region are not included in the official numbers for the French-speaking Community, since the French Community has no jurisdiction in that region. Their number is unknown, given the absence of sub-nationality status and the discouragement of linguistic criteria in census-taking. Estimates of the French-speaking population of Flanders vary from 120,000, around 200,000, to around 300,000.
For years there have been hints that the Community wanted to better demonstrate the link between Wallonia and Brussels, the two main territories where the French speakers are in the majority. These include the creation of several organisations such as Wallonie-Bruxelles International, a public body in charge of international cultural affairs set up jointly by the French Community, the Walloon Region and the Commission communautaire française (COCOF, a French-speaking institution of the Brussels-Capital Region). The concept of "Wallonie-Bruxelles" is however not mentioned in the Belgian constitution, and appeared only in a few official legal texts, such as the "Arrêté du Gouvernement de la Communauté française fixant le code de qualité et de l'accueil" of 17 December 2003, mentioning the name "Communauté Wallonie-Bruxelles", and the "Arrêté du Gouvernement de la Communauté française approuvant le programme quinquennal de promotion de la santé 2004–2008" of 30 April 2004, mentioning the name "Communauté française Wallonie-Bruxelles".
In May 2011, the parliament of the Community voted a resolution according to which it would, from then on, use the name "Wallonia-Brussels Federation" (French: "Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles") for all its communications, campaigns and in the administration. The move was immediately interpreted as aggressive by the Flemish authorities, the Minister-President of Flanders announcing he would not recognize the federation as an official body and saying that documents that would be sent by the federation would be unconstitutional and therefore would not exist.
While the authorities of the Community acknowledge the fact that the new name is not mentioned in the Belgian Constitution, they insist that their move is not illegal, as long as the new name is used as an additional name for the Community and is not used when it could create a legal issue (such as with the official texts published in the Belgian Official Journal).
Although the then Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said that the federal government would not use the new name  and the Flemish VRT decided not to use the new name in its news programs either, it is used by the French-speaking media, including the RTBF public network, which is fully controlled by the Community. The independent/private media uses both the alternative and the original designation.
In September 2011, the Community adopted a new logo that incorporates its new name.
Comparison with 'Flanders'
'Flanders' is a term which can refer to two different but related political institutions and concepts, the Flemish Region and the Flemish Community. However in both cases the term "Flanders" might be used instead (it is more widely used in official publications as well as informally). This is because the Flemish Region has merged its institutions with the Community, and there is only a small portion of the Dutch-speakers in Brussels, and they identify as Flemish. On the other hand, the Walloon Region and the French Community of Belgium remain separate and as such, the two are not interchangeable, especially since a significant portion of the French Community is found outside Wallonia, namely in the Brussels Region, and Brussels francophones further do not identify as Walloon.
Politics and government
The Parliament of the French Community (French: Parlement de la Communauté française or PCF) is the legislative assembly of the French Community of Belgium based in the Quartier Royal. It consists of all 75 members of the Walloon Parliament except German-speaking members (currently two) who are substituted by French-speaking members from the same party, and 19 members elected by the French linguistic group of the Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region within the former body. These members are elected for a term of five years.
Current composition (2014–2019)
|•||Socialist Party (PS)||36|
|Reformist Movement (MR)||30|
|•||Humanist Democratic Centre (cdH)||16|
|Francophone Democratic Federalists (FDF)||3|
|Workers' Party of Belgium (PTB-GO!)||2|
|People's Party (PP)||1|
Note: Government coalition parties are denoted with bullets (•)
The Cabinet of the French Community of Belgium (French: Gouvernement de la Communauté française ) is the executive branch of the French Community, and it too sits in Brussels. It consists of a number of ministers chosen by the parliament and is headed by a Minister-President.
Government of the French Community - Demotte III
|PS||Rudy Demotte||Minister President|
|PS||André Flahaut||Minister of Budget|
|PS||Isabelle Simonis||Minister of Youth and Equal Rights|
|PS||Rachid Madrane||Minister of Youth Aid, Justice and Brussels|
|PS||Jean-Claude Marcourt||Minister of Higher Education, Scientific Policy and Media|
|CDH||Joëlle Milquet||Minister of Budget, Finances and Sport|
|CDH||René Collin||Minister of Sports|
List of Ministers-President of the French Community
|Philippe Moureaux (1st time)||22 December 1981 – 9 December 1985||PS|
|Philippe Monfils||9 December 1985 – 2 February 1988||PRL|
|Philippe Moureaux (2nd time)||2 February – 9 May 1988||PS|
|Valmy Féaux||17 May 1988 – 7 January 1992||PS|
|Bernard Anselme||7 January 1992 – 4 May 1993||PS|
|Laurette Onkelinx||4 May 1993 – 13 July 1999||PS|
|Hervé Hasquin||13 July 1999 – 19 July 2004||PRL|
|Marie Arena||19 July 2004 – 20 March 2008||PS|
|Rudy Demotte||20 March 2008 – incumbent||PS|
- Brussels-Capital Region
- Commission communautaire française (COCOF)
- Communities and regions of Belgium
- "Le Drapeau - Communauté française de Belgique".
- Décret déterminant le jour de fête et les emblèmes propres à la Communauté française de Belgique (D. 03-07-1991, M.B. 15-11-1991)
- Xavier Deniau, La francophonie, Presses universitaires de France, 1995, page 27
- Frédéric Lasserre, Aline Lechaume, Le territoire pensé: géographie des représentations territoriales, Presses de l'Université du Québec, 2005, page 104
- Catherine Lanneau, L'inconnue française: la France et les Belges francophones, 1944–1945, Peter Lang Verlagsgruppe, collection: Enjeux internationaux, 2008, page 25
- L'année francophone internationale, volume 15, Groupe d'études et de recherches sur la francophonie, Université Laval, 2005, page 25
- "Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI)".
- La nouvelle Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles défraye la chronique, La Libre Belgique, 25 May 2011
- Une Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, La Dernière Heure, 5 April 2011
- Leterme houdt alleen rekening met benaming in grondwet, De Standaard, 26 May 2011
- Ne dites pas "Federatie Wallonië-Brussel" sur la VRT, 7sur7, 29 September 2011
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to French community of Belgium.|
- French Community of Belgium, official website.
- Parliament of the French Community of Belgium, official website (some information available in English).