Patron:
The Hon Sir Gerard Brennan AC KBE
former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia
Conference Committee:
Suri Ratnapala, Professor of Public Law, UQ
Thomas John, Chair, European Focus Group, LCA
Nicholas Aroney, Reader in Law, UQ
Hendryk Flaegel, International Law Section, LCA


Federalism with two components

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Federalism in the Kingdom of Belgium is an evolving system. Belgian federalism reflects both the linguistic communities (French and Dutch, and to a lesser extent German) and the economic regions (Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia). These correspond to the language areas in Belgium. Although officially there are three language areas, for all practical purposes only two languages are relevant on the federal level, Dutch and French: Brussels is officially a bilingual area, but it has a French-speaking majority.[9] Flanders is the region associated with the Belgium's Dutch-speaking majority, i.e. the Flemish Community. Due to its relatively small size (approximately one percent) the German-speaking Community of Belgium does not have much influence on national politics. Wallonia is a French-speaking area, except for the East Cantons. French is the second most spoken first language in Belgium, following Dutch. Within the French-speaking Commun ty of Belgium, there is a geographical and political distinction between Wallonia and Brussels for historical and sociological reasons. On one hand, this means that the Belgian political landscape, generally speaking, consists of only two components: the Dutch-speaking population represented by Dutch-language political parties, and the majority populations of Wallonia and Brussels, represented by their French-speaking parties. The Brussels region emerges as a third component.[11] This specific dual form of federalism, with the special position of Brussels, consequentially has a number of political issues—even minor ones—that are being fought out over the Dutch/French-language political division. With such issues, a final decision is possible only in the form of a compromise. This tendency gives this dual federalism model a number of traits that generally are ascribed to confederalism, and makes the future of Belgian federalism contentious.

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