EFA tribute to Willy Kuijpers

Flemish activist and former EFA MEP Willy Kuijpers died last Tuesday at the age of 83.

Kuijpers was born in Leuven on New Year’s Day in 1937, and became an EFA Member of the European Parliament for Volksunie from 1984 to 1989.

As a committed and lifelong internationalist, he was a passionate advocate for self-determination in Flanders and a defender of national emancipation of the peoples of Europe and the world.

Always on the side of peoples and minorities, he supported causes all over the globe, from his native Flanders and the Basque Country, to Ethiopia and the Amazon. 

An activist for many causes, Willy worked across borders for human rights and the right to self-determination. Several times he found himself arrested and being deported from states, usually in his trademark sandals! 

During the 1975 Aberri Eguna (national day of the Basque Country), he and Walter Luyten stood outside the city hall of Gernika holding the ikurriña – the Basque flag. Under the Franco dictatorship, this was a highly illegal act. Both he and Luyten were subsequently arrested and mistreated by the Guardia Civil, prompting strong protest from the Belgian government. He was eventually banned from entering Franco’s Spain for his actions.

An advocate of Europe’s minority languages, during his time as an MEP he authored an important report which, at the time, meant a fundamental support for non-official European languages. A great defender of the Flemish language and its institutionalisation, he declared that all European languages should ​​enjoy equal status and recognition.

He was a truly pro-European politician who brought his energy, passion and ideas into EFA.

A key figure within the EFA, he remained a highly active Honorary Member, and we will always remember Willy as an extremely committed politician, and as a warm and caring person.

EFA and many friends in Flanders and worldwide will miss him greatly.