Last week, Belgium’s Federal Justice Service reported that the number of new Belgian citizens has dropped by 25% since a 2012 reform restricted naturalisation. Yet these statistics also reveal the surprising trend that more EU citizens are becoming interested in Belgian citizenship.
Often portrayed as a group more interested in complaining about Belgian politics than doing anything about it, EU citizens in Belgium count little in Belgian elections. Contrary to this stereotype, the number of EU citizens naturalising in Belgium increased by 50%. The numbers of new Belgian citizens have nearly doubled among Bulgarians (514 in 2013) and Slovaks 125) but also among the Dutch (1272) and Spanish (379), while the number has even tripled among Romanians (1155).
“There is no single explanation for why EU citizens become politically active or naturalise, as their motivations are much less straightforward than they often are for non-EU citizens,” says Thomas Huddleston, Programme Director on Migration and Integration at the Migration Policy Group; “They may have lived here for decades, become the spouses or parents of Belgian citizens or simply developed a new sense of belonging and civic responsibility. Whatever their reasons, EU citizens are key to the future of Brussels and organisations must respond to this increasing interest.”
This interest among EU citizens is growing at exactly the time when naturalisation has become more complicated and Brussels’ local political challenges have never seemed so convoluted: from state reform to plane routes and from terrorism to tunnels. That’s why MPG, the European Citizens Action Service and the European Network against Racism are partnering with local NGO Objectif to offer information and inspiration to EU citizens interested to become voters, politically active or citizens in Belgium.
On 4 February from 10-20h, interested EU citizens should pass by La Tentation (Rue de Laeken 28, 1000 Brussels) for individualised expert advice and for 3 public debates with civically active immigrants from the Belgian political, NGO and arts scene. Objectif’s press release in French is also attached. All members of the public are welcome to attend this or one of the other 5 forums organised here in Belgium over the two years.
|Acquisitions of Belgian nationality|
|Eurostat (migr_acq)||SPF Justice|