International Breakfast - Sep 12
RCNY's September 12th International Breakfast featured speaker Geert De Proost, General Representative of the Government of Flanders to the USA, who spoke on Flanders' International Policy and Diplomacy in a Changing World.
 
    Read a report and share pictures of the meeting inside.


RCNY International Breakfast at the UN
Report by Andreas Runggatscher


RCNY's September 12th International Breakfast featured speaker Geert De Proost, General Representative of the Government of Flanders to the USA, who spoke on Flanders' International Policy and Diplomacy in a Changing World. De Proost opened by setting the context from which his work operates with the history of Belgium as well as its current but ever-evolving institutional framework. He described the historical context of how the area was a central point of commerce--once rivaling even London & Paris in size--its transition to being the War Theater of Europe that let to its more modern role as part of the European Union and continued importance to European Trade.

He noted the unique nature of Belgian Federalism, which has allowed both the Dutch-Speaking and French-Speaking parts of the country to coexist with its strong checks and balance systems, particularly in its double-layer system that puts its National & Community/Regional governance at equal footing since their split from the United Kingdom of Netherlands. This system has allowed both their economic and cultural/traditional values to flourish, and though there are political conversations that suggest the possibility of a split, there's little support of such from its citizens.

This structure has allowed regions, like Flanders, to have the ability to represent their interests in abroad, including the ability to make treaties, representation abroad in the forms of embassies and consulates, and control over international trade within their region. They have offices in many of their neighboring European countries as well as the New York - United States, and South Africa. Soon, they'll be opening up an office in Rome, Italy. Belgium, as De Proost described, is used to compromise and coalitions, so in turn, Flanders continually collaborates with the different parts of governance to coordinate their positions as its represented on the international stage, including the European Union and the United Nations.

Some issues they're currently facing include mitigating the potential impact of Brexit on their economies that remains a part of the larger conversation of its position in international affairs. Nonetheless, they're continually expanding on their visibility, work and impact internationally through seven strategic objectives: increasing trades & foreign investment, promoting tourism, academic diplomacy, cultural diplomacy, connecting with expats abroad, promoting the international image of the region as well as increasing awareness of their competencies and expertise.

 

Photo from the Meeting


Geert De Proost, Helen Reisler and Josef Klee



 
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