On 25 February, Minister-president Geert Bourgeois attended the opening of the new General Representation of the Government of Flanders in Rome. The diplomatic post in Rome will focus on strengthening the current cooperation and developing political contacts between Flanders and Italy. The General Representative will be Geert De Proost, who previously represented the Government of Flanders in London and New York.
Italy is one of Flanders' most important trading partners. After Germany and France, it has the third largest economy in the Eurozone. Italy is also a member of the G7 and by extension of the G20. Minister-president Geert Bourgeois: "This is an important expansion of Flanders’ diplomatic network, which, in addition to the general representations, includes more than one hundred posts of Flanders Investment & Trade and Visit Flanders. Italy is our fifth trading partner and one of the founding fathers of the European Community".
In addition, Rome is a major European and international hub for finance, culture and business. It is the seat of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), of the World Food Programme (WFP) and of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The focus of Bourgeois’ working visit to Rome was not only on the inauguration of the office of the new Representation, but also on political contacts with members of the Italian government, such as the Italian Minister for Infrastructure Danilo Toninelli and Erika Stefani, Minister for Regional Affairs and Autonomy.