The Flanders Department of Foreign Affairs will become a fully-fledged Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Minister-president Bourgeois took the initiative for a decision by the Government of Flanders indicating the path to achieve this goal.
The Flemish coalition agreement 2014-2019 already stated the ambition to connect Flanders more than ever with the world. As an open society and an open economy, we want to be a strong and assertive partner of the international community. The creation of a fully-fledged Ministry of Foreign Affairs, coordinating Flanders' international activities is therefore of the utmost importance.
Flanders has had a number of international competences since 1993, according to the principle “in foro interno, in foro externo”. This implies that it can act on the international plane for all matters for which it is responsible within the Belgian constitutional framework. To do so, it can make use of the following instruments:
- the constitutional right to concluded treaties that are internationally binding
- the right to appoint diplomatic representatives
- the granting of subsidies to organizations which support its foreign policy
- its agency Flanders Investment and Trade
- its agency Visit Flanders
Within the Government of Flanders, the logic of the principle "in foro interno, in foro externo" has been applied as well. This means that each minister has the power to decide on European and international initiatives within his own responsibilities. The same holds true for the different departments and agencies of the Government. Hence, there's a need for a more coherent approach. The new Ministry of Foreign Affairs will optimize the international policy coordination within the Government of Flanders and will be the first point of contact for foreign diplomatic representations.