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GENERAL REPRESENTATION OF THE GOVERNMENT OF FLANDERS

EMBASSY OF BELGIUM

DISCOVER FLANDERS

In Flanders, we can offer you a great time. And besides that… We design fashion for Paris and the freakiest costumes for fun. We make breathtaking cinema and theatre and take our love for arts abroad. We excite with our heritage even when it recalls a dramatic era. We talk a dozen languages and cook with a thousand flavours. We export hundreds of beers and send our witlof to New York or South Africa. We make the best pills for headaches and the most delicate chocolates. We design the finest lingerie and cut the most sparkling diamonds. We build the biggest screens and podiums for the world’s greatest events. We spin and weave for inside and out, extra-large or small, in metal, plastics or textiles. We deliver heavy-duty machinery and sophisticated medical transplants. We create new islands in the sea and build the highest towers. We assemble world-famous cars and bikes for all purposes. We make scientists and craftsmen think outside the box and come up with solutions to new challenges. We are champions at recycling, giving our resources seven lives. We are too busy to be proud of our achievements, and this modesty serves us as well in politics as it does in sports, in doing business as in sustainable relations, in Flanders and around the world.

Interested in visiting Flanders? See: http://www.visitflanders.com/en.

Belgium has been a federated country since the reforms of 1993. The country is divided into three territorial Regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels-Capital Region) and language-based Communities (Dutch, French and German) in line with these language groups, with Brussels as the capital of the federal state of Flanders.

The Region and Community of Flanders have a common Parliament and a Government. This federal state of Flanders has its own legislative and executive powers and is the autonomous northern region of Belgium, with broad and exclusive domestic and international responsibilities. Flanders has a unicameral legislature. The legislative and monitoring power rests with the Flemish Parliament, which is directly elected by the people of Flanders every five years.

Flanders enjoys complete autonomy in numerous domains, because the Government of Flanders and the federal government are on an equal footing and their powers do not overlap. Flanders is responsible for economics, foreign trade, healthcare, energy distribution, housing, agriculture and horticulture, the environment, public works and transport, employment, culture and education, science and innovation. Flanders pursues a foreign policy regarding all of its competences and is able to conclude bilateral and multilateral treaties. Its exchange with other countries is promoted not only by its diplomatic representatives worldwide, but also by approximately 100 representatives who specialise in trade and investment promotion, agriculture and tourism.

THE GOVERNMENT OF FLANDERS

Minister-President Geert Bourgeois presented the members of his government team on 25 July 2014. The Government of Flanders consists of nine ministers, who are in office for a 5-year term, which is due to end in 2019. The coalition government is composed of the following political parties: N-VA, CD&V and Open VLD.

 

GEERT BOURGEOIS

Geert Bourgeois

Minister-President of the Government of Flanders

Minister for Foreign policy and Immovable heritage

HILDE CREVITS

Hilde Crevits

Vice-Minister-President of the Government of Flanders

Minister for Education

Bart Tommelein 

Vice-Minister-President of the Government of Flanders

Minister for Budget, Finance and Energy

LIESBETH HOMANS

Liesbeth Homans 

Minister for Public governance, Civic integration, Housing, Equal opportunities and Poverty 

BEN WEYTS

Ben Weyts 

Minister for Mobility, Public works, Vlaamse rand, Tourism and Animal welfare 

JO VANDEURZEN

Jo Vandeurzen 

Minister for Welfare, Public health and Family

PHILIPPE MUYTERS

Philippe Muyters 

Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation and Sport

JOKE SCHAUVLIEGE

Joke Schauvliege

Minister for Environment, Nature and Agriculture

SVEN GATZ

Sven Gatz 

Minister for Culture, Media, Youth and Brussels affairs

POLICY

Flanders is an open society focused on the world. In a globalised world it is essential that we comprehensively pursue our interests and resolutely employ our assets at the international level.

According to the “in foro interno, in foro externo” principle, Flanders develops a foreign policy in all its internal powers, such as education, the environment, infrastructure, culture and social affairs.

Flanders implements an autonomous, mature and professional foreign policy that (1) works to profile Flanders abroad in an individual and targeted manner, (2) focuses on international enterprise and targeted economic and public diplomacy, (3) has an effective and more direct voice in the EU, (4) adopts an active and focused policy with regard to its neighbouring countries and a multilateral approach and (5) strives for development cooperation.

 

Since the signing of the Special Act of 5 May 1993, the so-called St. Michael's Agreement, every level of government in Belgium - including Flanders - can pursue its own policy abroad with regard to its domestic competences, including the conclusion of treaties (ius tractandi). This principle is described as "in foro interno, in foro externo".

In this context Flanders maintains bilateral relations with various countries in various fields. Because the great challenges of the 21st century transcend national or regional boundaries and increasingly require global answer, we also invest in multilateral cooperation, through multilateral institutions, such as UNESCO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

For all of its devolved competences, the Government of Flanders co-decides the Belgian positions taken within the European Union. The Government of Flanders does so together, and on an equal footing, with the governments of the other Communities and Regions as well as the federal government.

The General Representatives of the Government of Flanders abroad serve as instruments of the foreign policy of Flanders. They are the first point of contact in European cities, such as Paris, The Hague, Berlin and London, and in a number of other capital cities around the world, such as Pretoria. They work in close cooperation with the respective Belgian Embassies. Their field of activity covers all areas in which Flanders has extensive decision-making powers. The Government of Flanders also has foreign representatives focusing specifically on trade and investment, and on tourism.

The Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs helps shape the international policy of the Government of Flanders and mobilises all relevant partners to that end. In doing so, the Department helps to build an open, dynamic and solidary Flanders, which dedicates itself to a democratic, safe and prospering global society.

The Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs contributes to this by investing in: the protection of the international interests of Flanders; the internationalisation of the Flemish economy; the sustainable growth of tourism in and to Flanders and the reduction of structural poverty in the world.

The Department is responsible for:

1. the preparation and evaluation of the Government of Flanders policy in the field of foreign affairs, tourism, development cooperation and international enterprise;

2. the international representation of the Government of Flanders;

3. the communication with regard to the Government of Flanders international policy;

4. the coordination of the Flemish position determination and interests protection in EU and international dossiers;

5. the financing and supporting of projects, programmes and organisations in implementation of the Government of Flanders policy insofar that it has not been entrusted to the agencies of the Flemish foreign affairs policy area;

6. the monitoring of the international trade in strategic and military goods;

7. the transposition of and monitoring of the compliance with international commitments and agreements;

8. the authorization and control of travel agencies, tourist rental and tourist accommodation in Flanders;

9. the monitoring of the internal coherence of the Flemish public actions at the international level.

For more information on the Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs, see: www.vlaanderen.be/int/en

STUDY IN FLANDERS

The educational system in Flanders prepares young people to perform optimally in a rapidly changing and increasingly internationally oriented society. The system’s excellence is confirmed by the results of the PISA assessment project – the Program for International Student Assessment, coordinated by the OECD – which measures the scholastic performance of 15-year-olds in 57 countries in reading proficiency, problem-solving skills, and mathematic and scientific knowledge. Flanders’ education system ranks sixth in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015. When it comes to maths and science education, the region is in third position in the world.

Flanders has numerous international schools. There are, for example, the Antwerp British School and the Antwerp International School; the International School of Brussels and the British School of Brussels; and the College of Europe in Bruges, which provides university-level courses and houses the international research and training centre of the United Nations University. Ghent opened an international school in 2012, and the city of Leuven, KU Leuven and Imec research centre recently established an international private primary school that offers courses in English.

Flanders has five public universities: Leuven, Antwerp, Ghent, Hasselt and Brussels. KU Leuven, with more than 32,000 students, is the largest and the oldest in the Low Countries, followed by the Ghent University, which has nearly 30,000 students. Three of these universities feature in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2015-2016: KU Leuven, Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. Academic excellence is also a core value of Flanders’ business schools and university colleges.

Interested in studying in Flanders? Visit www.studyinflanders.be.

Read more about research opportunities in Flanders via www.researchinflanders.be.

View this video to learn more about research opportunities in Flanders https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oazOEF2p52M

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