French Community of Belgium

Last updated

French Community of Belgium

Communauté française (French)
Flag of Wallonia.svg
Communaute francaise in Belgium.svg
French Community in Belgium and Europe.svg
Country Belgium
Capital Brussels
  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  [ fr ] (PS)
  Totalc. 4,200,000
Celebration Day 27 September
Language French
The Walloon flag was chosen as flag of the French Community of Belgium in 1975. It was adopted by the Walloon Region in 1998. [1] [2]

In Belgium, the French Community (French : Communauté française; French pronunciation:  [kɔmynote fʁɑ̃sɛːz] ) refers to one of the three constituent constitutional linguistic communities. Since 2011, the French Community has used the name Wallonia-Brussels Federation (French : Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles), which is controversial because its name in the Belgian constitution has not changed and because it is seen as a political statement. The name "French Community" refers to Francophone Belgians, and not to French people residing in Belgium. As such, the French Community of Belgium is sometimes rendered in English as "the French-speaking Community of Belgium" for clarity. [3]

Belgium Federal constitutional monarchy in Western Europe

Belgium, officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe. It is bordered by the Netherlands to the north, Germany to the east, Luxembourg to the southeast, France to the southwest, and the North Sea to the northwest. It covers an area of 30,688 square kilometres (11,849 sq mi) and has a population of more than 11.4 million. The capital and largest city is Brussels; other major cities are Antwerp, Ghent, Charleroi and Liège.

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

Constitution of Belgium constitution

The Constitution of Belgium dates back to 1831. Since then Belgium has been a parliamentary monarchy that applies the principles of ministerial responsibility for the government policy and the Trias Politica. The Constitution established Belgium as a centralised unitary state. However, since 1970, through successive state reforms, Belgium has gradually evolved into a federal state.


The Community has its own parliament, government, and administration. Its official flag is identical to the Walloon Flag, which is also the official flag of the Walloons of Wallonia.

Parliament of the French Community belgian enterprise

The Parliament of the French Community 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 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.

Government of the French Community

The Cabinet of the French Community of Belgium is the executive branch of the French Community of Belgium, and it sits in Brussels. It consists of a number of ministers chosen by the Parliament of the French Community and is headed by a Minister-President.

Walloons French-speaking people who live in Belgium, principally in Wallonia

Walloons are a Romance ethnic group native to Belgium, principally its southern region of Wallonia, who speak French and Walloon. Walloons are a distinctive ethnic community within Belgium. Important historical and anthropological criteria bind Walloons to the French people.

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.

Brussels Capital region of Belgium

Brussels, officially the Brussels-Capital Region, is a region of Belgium comprising 19 municipalities, including the City of Brussels, which is the capital of Belgium. The Brussels-Capital Region is located in the central portion of the country and is a part of both the French Community of Belgium and the Flemish Community, but is separate from the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. Brussels is the most densely populated and the richest region in Belgium in terms of GDP per capita. It covers 161 km2 (62 sq mi), a relatively small area compared to the two other regions, and has a population of 1.2 million. The metropolitan area of Brussels counts over 2.1 million people, which makes it the largest in Belgium. It is also part of a large conurbation extending towards Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Walloon Brabant, home to over 5 million people.

Historically, this community spoke variants of Walloon, Dutch, 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.

History of Belgium aspect of history

The history of Belgium extends before the founding of the modern state of that name in 1830. Belgium's history is therefore intertwined with those of its neighbours: the Netherlands, Germany, France and Luxembourg. For most of its history, what is now Belgium was either a part of a larger territory, such as the Carolingian Empire, or divided into a number of smaller states, prominent among them being the Duchy of Brabant, the County of Flanders, the Prince-Bishopric of Liège and County of Luxembourg. Due to its strategic location and the many armies fighting on its soil, since the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), Belgium has often been called the "battlefield of Europe" or the "cockpit of Europe". It is also remarkable as a European nation which contains, and is divided by, a language boundary between Latin-derived French and Germanic Dutch.

Walloon language language

Walloon is a Romance language that is spoken in much of Wallonia in Belgium, in some villages of Northern France and in the northeast part of Wisconsin until the mid 20th century and in some parts of Canada. It belongs to the langue d'oïl language family, whose most prominent member is the French language. The historical background of its formation was the territorial extension since 980 of the Principality of Liège to the south and west.

Dutch language West Germanic language

Dutch(Nederlands ) is a West Germanic language spoken by around 24 million people as a first language and 5 million people as a second language, constituting the majority of people in the Netherlands and Belgium. It is the third most widely spoken Germanic language, after its close relatives English and German.


The French Community of Belgium includes 4.5 million people, of whom:

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, [5] around 200,000, [6] to around 300,000. [7]

The French Community of Belgium makes up about 41% of the total population of Belgium; 58% of the population belongs to the Flemish Community, and 1% to the German-speaking Community.

Alternative name

For years there have been hints that the Community wanted to better demonstrate[ citation needed ] 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). [8] 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. [9]

That name also obscures the fact that this institution does not represent the Flemings living in Brussels, nor their local Flemish Community Commission ('Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie', or VGC) nor the Brussels-Capital Region.

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). [10]

Although the then Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme said that the federal government would not use the new name [11] and the Flemish VRT decided not to use the new name in its news programs either, [12] 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.

Politics and government

The French Community of Belgium is governed by the Parliament of the French Community, which selects the executive branch, the Government of the French Community.


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.

The current President of the Parliament of the French Community is Philippe Courard  [ fr ] (PS).

Current composition (2014–2019)

Socialist Party (PS)36
Reformist Movement (MR)30
Humanist Democratic Centre (cdH)16
Ecolo 6
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.

Following the 25 May 2014 election, the    PS (30 seats) and    CDH (13 seats) parties formed a coalition.

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 (until April 2016)Minister of Compulsory Education, Culture and Child Care
CDH Marie-Martine Schyns (from April 2016)Minister of Compulsory Education and School Buildings
CDH Alda Greoli (from April 2016)Minister of Culture, Child Care and Sports
CDH René Collin Minister of Agriculture and Tourism (Minister of Sports until April 2016)

List of Ministers-President of the French Community

Philippe Moureaux (1st term)22 December 1981 – 9 December 1985 PS
Philippe Monfils 9 December 1985 – 2 February 1988 PRL
Philippe Moureaux (2nd term)2 February – 9 May 1988PS
Valmy Féaux17 May 1988 – 7 January 1992PS
Bernard Anselme 7 January 1992 – 4 May 1993PS
Laurette Onkelinx 4 May 1993 – 13 July 1999PS
Hervé Hasquin 13 July 1999 – 19 July 2004PRL
Marie Arena 19 July 2004 – 20 March 2008PS
Rudy Demotte 20 March 2008 – incumbentPS


In 2016, 63% of residents of Brussels and Wallonia declared themselves Catholics, 15% were practising Catholics and 30% were non-practising Catholics, 23% were Protestant, 4% were Muslim, 2% were of another religion and 26% were non-religious. [13]

Religion in Brussels and Wallonia (2016) [13]

   Protestant (2%)
   Islam (4%)
  Non-religious (26%)
  Other religion (2%)

See also


  1. "Le Drapeau - Communauté française de Belgique".
  2. 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)
  3. French-speaking Community of Belgium, Université catholique de Louvain
  4. Xavier Deniau, La francophonie, Presses universitaires de France, 1995, page 27
  5. Frédéric Lasserre, Aline Lechaume, Le territoire pensé: géographie des représentations territoriales, Presses de l'Université du Québec, 2005, page 104
  6. Catherine Lanneau, L'inconnue française: la France et les Belges francophones, 1944–1945, Peter Lang Verlagsgruppe, collection: Enjeux internationaux, 2008, page 25
  7. L'année francophone internationale, volume 15, Groupe d'études et de recherches sur la francophonie, Université Laval, 2005, page 25
  8. "Wallonie-Bruxelles International (WBI)".
  9. La nouvelle Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles défraye la chronique, La Libre Belgique, 25 May 2011
  10. Une Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, La Dernière Heure, 5 April 2011
  11. Leterme houdt alleen rekening met benaming in grondwet, De Standaard, 26 May 2011
  12. Ne dites pas "Federatie Wallonië-Brussel" sur la VRT, 7sur7, 29 September 2011
  13. 1 2 (28 January 2016). "75% des francophones revendiquent une identité religieuse". Retrieved 5 June 2017.

Related Research Articles

Wallonia Region of Belgium

Wallonia is a region of Belgium. As the southern portion of the country, Wallonia is primarily French-speaking, and accounts for 55% of Belgium's territory and a third of its population. The Walloon Region was not merged with the French Community of Belgium, which is the political entity responsible for matters related mainly to culture and education, because the French Community of Belgium encompasses both Wallonia and the majority French-Speaking Brussels-Capital Region.

Communities, regions and language areas of Belgium first-level subdivisions that make up the federated entities of Belgium

Belgium is a federal state comprising three communities and three regions that are based on four language areas. For each of these subdivision types, the subdivisions together make up the entire country; in other words, the types overlap.

The Liberal Reformist Party was a liberal political party active in the Walloon Region and Brussels in Belgium. The PRL grew out of the Francophone part of the unitary liberal Party for Freedom and Progress (PVV-PLP) in 1971 and merged into the Reformist Movement (RM) in 2002.

DéFI French speaking political party in Belgium

DéFI is a social-liberal, liberal, regionalist political party in Belgium mainly known for defending French-speakers’ interests in and near the Brussels region. The party is led since 1995 by Olivier Maingain, a member of the Chamber of Representatives. The party's current name, DéFI or Défi, is a backronym of Démocrate, Fédéraliste, Indépendant meaning "challenge" in French which was adopted in 2016.

Political parties in Belgium Wikimedia list article

Belgium is a federal state with a multi-party political system, with numerous parties who factually have no chance of gaining power alone, and therefore must work with each other to form coalition governments.

Parliament of Wallonia parliament of the Walloon Region, Belgium

The Parliament of Wallonia is the legislative body of Wallonia, one of the three self-governing regions of Belgium. The parliament building, the former Hospice Saint-Gilles, is situated in Namur, the capital of Wallonia, at the symbolic confluence of the Meuse and the Sambre, the two main rivers of the most inhabited parts of Wallonia, the Sillon industriel. On the other side of the Meuse, facing the Parliament, is the Élysette, the seat of the Walloon government.

Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region community and regional parliament

The Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region, is the governing body of the Brussels-Capital Region, one of the three regions of Belgium. It is also known as the Brussels Regional Parliament.

RTBF is a public-service broadcasting organization delivering radio and television services to the French-speaking Community of Belgium, in Wallonia and Brussels. Its counterpart in the Flemish Community is the Dutch-language VRT, and in the German-speaking Community it is BRF.

French Community Commission French Community representation in Brussels

The Commission communautaire française (COCOF) or the French Community Commission is the local representative of the French-speaking authorities in the Brussels-Capital Region, one of the three regions of Belgium.

Languages of Belgium languages of a geographic region

The Kingdom of Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. A number of non-official, minority languages and dialects are spoken as well.

The Walloon Movement is an umbrella term for all Belgian political movements that either assert the existence of a Walloon identity and of Wallonia and/or defend French culture and language within Belgium, either within the framework of the 1830 Deal or either defending the linguistic rights of French-speakers. The movement began as a defence of the primacy of French but later gained political and socio-economic objectives. In French, the terms wallingantisme and wallingants are also used to describe, sometimes pejoratively, the movement and its activists.

Partition of Belgium hypothetical split of the country into Wallonia and Flanders

The partition of Belgium is a hypothetical situation which has been discussed by both Belgian and international media envisioning a split of the country along linguistic divisions, with each of the Flemish Community (Flanders) and the French-speaking Community (Wallonia) either becoming independent states or, historically, joining the Netherlands and France, respectively. Both communities currently have a large degree of autonomy within the Belgian federation.

The Belgian French Community Holiday is a holiday on 27 September, held only in the French Community of Belgium. It is also variously translated as Day of the French Community, French Community Day, Feast Day of the French Community , Festival of the French Community or other variants.

Francization of Brussels

The Francization of Brussels refers to the evolution, over the past two centuries, of this historically Dutch-speaking city into one where French has become the majority language and lingua franca. The main cause of this transition was the rapid assimilation of the Flemish population, amplified by immigration from France and Wallonia.

The history of Wallonia, from prehistoric times to the present day, is that of a territory which, since 1970, has approximately coincided with the territory of Wallonia, a federated component of Belgium, which also includes the smaller German-speaking Community of Belgium. Wallonia is the name colloquially given to the Walloon Region. The French word Wallonie comes from the term Wallon, itself coming from Walh. Walh is a very old Germanic word used to refer to a speaker of Celtic or Latin.

Manifesto for Walloon culture

The Manifesto for Walloon Culture, was published in Liège on 15 September 1983 and signed by seventy-five "key figures in artistic, journalistic and university circles" of Wallonia.