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BELGIUM BELGIË BELGIQUE BELGIEN بـلـجـيـكــــــــــــا PowerPoint Presentation
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BELGIUM BELGIË BELGIQUE BELGIEN بـلـجـيـكــــــــــــا - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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BELGIUM BELGIË BELGIQUE BELGIEN بـلـجـيـكــــــــــــا. About Belgium. Constitutional monarchy Head of State : King Albert II Capital : BRUSSELS 10.2 million inhabitants Official languages : Dutch (6 million) French (4 million) German (80.000). History.

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belgium belgi belgique belgien


about belgium
About Belgium
  • Constitutional monarchy
  • Head of State : King Albert II
  • Capital : BRUSSELS
  • 10.2 million inhabitants
  • Official languages :
        • Dutch (6 million)
        • French (4 million)
        • German (80.000)
  • A history of wars and occupation : by Romans, Vikings, French, Spanish, Austrians, Dutch, Germans…
  • 1815 : Napoleon looses at Waterloo
  • 1815 : Creation of the “United Kingdom of the Netherlands” as a buffer to prevent France from controlling North Sea ports and threatening Britain – Rule by Dutch king
  • 1830 : Belgian Revolution – the Catholic South led by a mainly French speaking elite secedes from the Protestant, Dutch speaking North
  • 1831 : French speaking elite agrees on a very modern, liberal constitution that organises Belgium as a UNITARY, DECENTRALISED, MONOLINGUAL state

in 3 levels




More than purely territorial subdivisions,

but subordinate

  • 1831 Constitution :

“French is the only official language”

  • In reality, a majority of the population speaks Dutch (Flemish)
  • As the right to vote is extended, and proportional representation is introduced, the Flemish people’s political power increases and Dutch becomes an official language by the end of the 19th century
  • 1970 : German becomes official language
the language laws
A series of laws on the use of languages (1921, 1932, 1962) lays the foundation of the

territoriality principle

“in monolingual regions, the language of that region is compulsory for all public administrative acts”

The Language Laws
the language laws12
The Language Laws

divide Belgium into 4 linguistic areas

(now enshrined in the Constitution)

  • The Dutch speaking area
  • The French speaking area
  • The German speaking area
  • The bilingual area of Brussels(= 19 municipalities)
the language laws14
The Language Laws
  • In private, the use of languages is free
  • In relations with the government and the judiciary, the use of the official language of the linguistic area is compulsory
  • In the bilingual area and in 8 mixed municipalities with “facilities” (along the linguistic border), citizens can choose which official language they use when dealing with government
mono bi lingual
  • The language issue is a sensitive one, and has been since 1830
  • The rules are very rigid
  • The reason is mainly psychological
    • Flemish fear being overruled by French speakers (as they once were)
    • French speakers fear being forced to be bilingual (as they once were)
from unitary to federal
From unitary to federal
  • Since the 1930s : Flemish community demanding cultural autonomy
  • Since the 1960s : Wallonia (southern, French speaking part of Belgium) demanding economic autonomy
from unitary to federal17
From unitary to federal
  • 1970 : 1st state reform

= creation of 3 cultural communities

  • 1980 : 2nd state reform

= creation of 2 economic regions

  • 1988 : 3rd state reform

= creation of a 3rd economic region

= Brussels Capital Region

federal belgium federal state regions communities
Federal BelgiumFederal State, Regions, Communities
  • Institutions
  • Legislative norms
  • Territorial jurisdiction
  • Distribution of competences
  • Instruments to exercise competences
  • Conflict prevention and resolution
institutions in federal belgium
Institutions in federal Belgium
  • Executive : 6 Governments
    • Federal Government
    • Government of the Flemish Region

= Government of the Flemish Community

    • Government of the Walloon Region
    • Government of the French Community
    • Government of the German speaking Community
    • Government of the Brussels Capital Region
institutions in federal belgium20
Institutions in federal Belgium
  • Legislative : 6 Parliaments
    • Federal Parliament : bicameral
      • Council of Representatives
      • Senate
    • Parliament of the Flemish Region

= Parliament of the Flemish Community

    • Parliament of the Walloon Region
    • Parliament of the French Community
    • Parliament of the German speaking Community
    • Parliament of the Brussels Capital Region
institutions in federal belgium21
Institutions in federal Belgium
  • Council of Representatives

150 Members, directly elected (88D + 62F)

  • Senate

71 Senators (41D + 29F + 1G)

    • 40 directly elected (25D + 15F)
    • 21 “Community” senators (10D+10F+1G)

= members of Community Parliaments

    • 10 “coopted” senators (6D + 4F)
mechanisms to protect linguistic minority
Mechanisms to protect linguistic minority
  • Equal composition of the Cabinet

7D Ministers + 7F Ministers (+ Prime Minister)

  • “Alarm bell procedure”

75% of MPs of one linguistic group can suspend the legislative process and demand consultations within Cabinet which has to propose a solution, but only once per draft law

  • “Special majority laws”
      • Quorum : 1/2 present of each linguistic group
      • 1/2 majority within each linguistic group
      • 2/3 majority of total MPs present
distribution of powers between council and senate


1.Constitutional amendments

2. Statutes of the Regions and Communities

3. Organisation of the judiciary

4. Ratification of international treaties



Liability of federal ministers


Army contingent

Distribution of powers between Council and Senate



All other laws

If it so wishes, the Senate can debate draft laws and even propose amendments, but the Council has the last word.

Senate = “reflection chamber”

legislative norms
Legislative norms
  • Federal “laws”
  • Regional “decrees”
  • Community “decrees”
  • Brussels Region “ordinances”

= equal = NO hierarchy of norms

= Communities and Regions may repeal, amend, amplify or replace existing federal laws IF they stay within their area of competence

distribution of competences
Distribution of competences
  • Belgium : from unitary to federal state
  • The powers of the newly created Regions and Communities are listed in the constitution or in special majority laws
  • All the powers that are NOT explicitly attributed to the Regions and Communities (= residual powers) remain the competence of the federal state
distribution of competences powers of the communities
Distribution of competencesPowers of the Communities
  • Cultural matters (fine arts, libraries, media, recreation, sports, tourism, cultural events…)
  • Education (universities, schools, training…)
  • Person-related matters (health, family policy, welfare, youth protection, immigrants, handicapped…)
  • Language policy (in the administration, education, employer-employee relations)
distribution of competences powers of the regions
Land use and planning

Environment and water

Nature conservation




Foreign trade


Labour policy

Public works


Organisation and oversight of provincial and municipal authorities

Distribution of competencesPowers of the Regions
distribution of competences powers of the federal state
Distribution of competencesPowers of the Federal State

“Reserved + residual competences”

  • Monetary policy
  • Justice
  • Social security
  • Security and safety (police, civil defence)
  • Defence (army)
  • Civil, commercial, labour law
territorial jurisdiction
Territorial jurisdiction
  • The territorial jurisdiction of the Federal State is the whole territory
  • The territorial jurisdiction of the Communities and the Regions is defined according to the

4 linguistic areas (Dutch, French, German, and bilingual)

territorial jurisdiction30
Territorial jurisdiction
  • Regions
    • Flemish Region = Dutch speaking area
    • Walloon Region = French + German area
    • Brussels Capital Region = bilingual area
  • Communities

Flemish Community = Dutch speaking area

+ Dutch speaking institutions in bilingual area

    • French Community = French speaking area

+ French speaking institutions in bilingual area

    • German Community = German speaking area

Territorial jurisdiction

3 (economic) Regions

Brussels Capital Region

Flemish Region

Walloon Region


Territorial jurisdiction

3 (cultural) Communities

German-speaking Community

Flemish Community

French Community

instrumental powers
Instrumental powers

Regions and Communities can use a number of “instruments” that enable them to exercise their responsibilities:

  • Penal powers
  • Fiscal powers
  • International powers
international powers
International powers

Principle of parallelism

between internal and external powers

“Regions and Communities can conclude international treaties in matters within their exclusive jurisdiction”


“Need to ensure stability of Belgium’s international relations”

cooperative federalism
Cooperative federalism

Principle of

“federal loyalty”


legal principle of


(now enshrined in the Constitution)

cooperative federalism36
Cooperative federalism

Prevent conflicts : Cooperation


  • Consultative Committee (between governments)
  • Interministerial Conferences (on specific matters)


  • Council of State (highest administrative court) gives opinion on draft laws prior to voting
  • Obligation to inform, to advise, to consult or to consent according to legal requirements


  • Conclusion of Cooperation Agreements on specific issues
cooperative federalism37
Cooperative federalism

Settlement of conflicts

  • Conflicts of competence = legal problem to be settled by the Constitutional Court
  • Conflicts of interest = political problem to be settled by the Consultative Committee
european union
European Union
  • Belgium = one of 6 founding members, more than 50 years ago
  • Enlarging : now 27 member states
  • Deepening : many areas of supranational and common decision-making at EU level, while keeping strictly intergovernmental decision-making in other areas
  • Debate in 2007 : Constitution ? Federalism ?
    • Federal state retains residual powers
    • Essentially between 2 linguistic communities
    • Regions becoming more important
    • “sui generis” = no master plan = future ?
    • Integrating European Union