In the summer of 2017, The General Representation of the Government of Flanders in London had its remit expanded to include Ireland.
In doing so, the Government of Flanders intends to strengthen bilateral ties with Ireland as a result of this, with a specific focus on cultural and academic diplomacy. These ties will gain further importance in light of the impact Brexit is likely to have on the relationship with Northern Ireland. Finally, the General Representation will undertake a series of initiatives as part of the Irish 'decade of centenaries' which covers, amongst other things, the First World War and the centenary of Irish independence.
Relations between Ireland and Flanders go way back. The Irish College at KU Leuven University is a testament to this fact. In the present day, the Leuven Institute for Ireland in Europe organises programmes and events for Irish organisations. There is also the Leuven Centre for Irish Studies (LCIS) that conducts multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary work.
In economic terms, Flanders is an important partner as one of the major importers of Irish products. The import of chemicals is particularly important to the Flemish chemicals and pharmaceuticals sector.
Even though the General Representation does not have a permanent presence in Ireland, the General Representation conducts a number of visits each year to develop its network, support initiatives and organise events.
Colleagues working at Visit Flanders in Flanders House in London are similarly responsible for Flemish-Irish relations with regard to tourism. Flanders Investment and Trade has its own office in Dublin at the Embassy of Belgium in Ireland.