Press Release

Federal government working on action plan to promote dialogue and coexistence

On Friday 9 February, the federal government gave a mandate to Secretary of State for Gender Equality, Equal Opportunities and Diversity Marie-Colline Leroy, to examine how best to implement the action proposals put forward by the eight experts who participated in the Round Table to strengthen dialogue and cohesion in Belgian society.

Among the proposed actions: a 'Year of Cultural Diversity' and the creation of a citizens' council with elected citizens who can make recommendations on a theme linked to intercultural dialogue.

On 9 November, the federal government asked Secretary of State Marie-Colline Leroy to bring together eight experts known for their commitment to peace and dialogue. They were asked to suggest actions that could contribute to greater social cohesion in our country. Flanders and the Wallonia-Brussels Federation were invited to send observers.

This initiative was prompted by the resurgence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the violence suffered by civilians there and its potential impact on Belgian society. The polarisation of views and the instrumentalisation of the conflict can fuel hatred. Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism: the possible consequences in terms of security or discrimination against different groups of people in our society make the government even more vigilant.


The Expert Roundtable has completed its work and proposed next actions:

  • The introduction of a 'Year of Cultural Diversity'. The aim is to promote cultural diversity in Belgium through a varied programme of events (cultural programming, conferences, debates, research, a national campaign on living together, etc.),
  • Better moderation of social networks through various initiatives (legislation, charter, reporting procedure, etc.) aimed at combating discriminatory and hateful messages on social media and websites,
  • Maintain and strengthen existing policies (mechanisms, plans, legislation, etc.) to combat all forms of racism. This could take the form of an Interfederal Plan to Combat Racism,
  • An invitation to all governments to recall the principles of fundamental rights (human rights, international law) in their interventions,
  • An inventory, prepared by the federal government, of the existing initiatives carried out by the different levels of government in the field of intercultural dialogue, including training tools on how to deal with controversies, which can be made available to professionals (trainers, facilitators, teachers, etc.),
  • Launching qualitative and participatory research around how to achieve a more shared social narrative,
  • Finally, the experts argue that the work should continue with the participation of different levels of government and civil society. They suggest that there should be a Citizen's Council with elected citizens who can consider the issue and make policy recommendations.

At the request of the federal government, Secretary of State Leroy will now examine the best way to implement these action proposals.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo: "Our country is rich in diversity. In Belgium, we are free to be who we are: rich in our beliefs, our origins, our past. This is the essence of oud democracy. It includes the ability to listen to each other, respect each other and stand in each other's shoes. In an increasingly complex and polarised world, this capacity for dialogue can quickly disappear. And where dialogue disappears, hatred can prevail. It is our duty to be aware of this and work around it."

State Secretary Marie-Colline Leroy: "I would like to thank all the experts who participated in the Roundtables for their high-quality work that I want to follow up on. It is our responsibility to work to maintain an open society that nurtures tolerance and mutual respect among all people living in our country. The proposals submitted can help us further build such a society."