In 2000, the Belgian authorities voted a so-called “Quick Citizenship” Act, bestowing Belgian nationality on foreigners as a simple procedure. Everyone who has lived in the country for a number of years (usually seven, but in some cases barely three, and sometimes even only two years) is entitled to Belgian citizenship. One does not have to speak the language nor prove one’s will to integrate in the host country.
So far the Quick Citizenship Act created 337,904 “new Belgians” – an average of 4,277 per month. Belgium has only 10 million inhabitants. One million of them live in Brussels, Belgium’s as well as the EU’s (and NATO’s) capital. While in 1960 7.3% of the Brussels population was foreign, today the figure has risen to 56.5%. The latter figure refers to non-Belgians (26.3% of the Brussels population) and to foreigners who have acquired Belgian citizenship since 1980 and their children (30.2%).
According to Jan Hertogen, a Marxist sociologist, the Brussels population replacement “is an impressive and unique development from a European, or even a world perspective.” Hertogen’s figures show that in 1991 28.5% of the Brussels residents held a foreign nationality and 4.5% were naturalized or “new” Belgians. In 2005 the number of foreigners had stabilized at 26.3%, but the number of “new Belgians” had grown to 30.2%. Hertogen expects that by 2020 75% of the Brussels population will be of non-Belgian origin.
Belgium is an artificial country, consisting of 6 million Dutch-speaking Flemings and 4 million French-speaking Walloons. The Francophile Belgian authorities reckon that foreigners will not feel much loyalty to Flanders because most of them speak French. Brussels, which used to be Dutch-speaking, has become a French-speaking enclave in Flanders.
Today, 589 of the 661 elected local councillors in Brussels are French-speaking. 170 of the 661 Brussels councillors are “new Belgians” or foreigners. Most of them are Muslims. 168 of the 170 foreign councillors are registered as Francophones. Foreigners make up 28.5% of the French-speaking and 3% of the Dutch-speaking councillors.