4.2.5 Language issues and policies
There are two official languages in the Netherlands: Dutch and Frisian.
In the cultural policy document 1997-2000, special emphasis was placed on the Dutch language and the implementation of measures stimulating the importance of maintaining and promoting the Dutch language in the Netherlands and the rest of the world. Emphasis was laid on Dutch language movies, television dramas, and literature as well as on the creation of the Literary Museum.
A Flemish-Dutch international television channel known as BVN has started to broadcast. It is intended for Flemish and Dutch ex pats.
Dutch language policy is carried out in the Dutch Language Union [Nederlandse Taalunie], an intergovernmental treaty between the Netherlands and Belgian Flanders (see chapter 5.1.9).
To emphasise the mutual cultural interests of the Flemish and the Dutch, a cultural treaty was concluded in 1995. In June 2004, a far more concrete step was taken by the opening of the Flemish-Dutch House [Vlaams-Nederlands Huis] in Brussels. The objective of the House is to promote Flemish-Dutch culture in Europe and to house debates on cultural diversity, society and politics in an increasingly unified Europe (see also chapter 3.4.5).
Frisian is spoken in the province Friesland. Frisian has an official status within the province, and has been officially recognised as a national language. The schools in Friesland teach both Dutch and Frisian, unless they have been exempted from teaching Frisian by the provincial executive at the school's request. In higher, adult and vocational education, classes and examinations must, by law, be held in Dutch unless the course is in a foreign language, or a non-Dutch visiting lecturer is speaking or the nature, organisation or quality of teaching or the origin of the students necessitates it. From a demographic angle, Frisian language is on the rebound, even as a second language. Only a few hundred thousand people are still Frisian native speakers. At the same time, the language is adequately taken care of as a specimen of cultural heritage. The cultural and literary value of the language-related Frisian heritage is preserved by the Frysk Academy in Leeuwarden, capital of the province of Friesland. Some time ago it was decided that all official government and parliamentary documents will be available in the Frisian language (see also chapter 4.2.4).