On 31 January, Minister-president Geert Bourgeois invited the diplomatic corps to toast to the new year. During his speech, he emphasized the importance of Flanders and its foreign network on the international scene. Furthermore, he pleaded for further global economic integration based on free and fair trade.
Bourgeois first announced the opening of a new General Representation in Rome in February and a new post of Flanders Investment and Trade in Nigeria later this year. “In 2018, Flanders celebrated a quarter of a century of Flemish foreign policy. It was an excellent opportunity to look back on our past achievements and to reflect on the future of our foreign policy. In this respect, we will continue to broaden our foreign network.”
In the context of current geopolitical uncertainty due to increasing protectionism, he also called for further global economic integration based on rules that increasingly contribute to sustainable development, the support of core labour conventions and the protection of a level playing field. “In times of rising protectionism and hick-ups in global stock markets, resulting in mounting concerns over the future of global economic growth, the EU has to lead the way.”
To conclude, he elaborated on the rejection of the Brexit deal in the British Parliament, which he deeply regrets: “For two and a half years now, Brexit has been one of the main concerns for the European Union and for Flanders. And this continues to be the case. Given the extensive impact Brexit will have on Flanders - with the UK as our fourth trading partner - a trade-friendly Brexit is our top priority. Despite the cloudy Brexit sky, we must remain positive and focus on the future.”
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pdf fileSpeech Minister-president Geert Bourgeois - New Year's reception Diplomatic Corps (270 KB)