Re-Bel Zoom webinar Thursday 25 November 2021, 12.15-1.45 pm
Why does the German-speaking Community want to become a Region? Which powers does it find important to acquire? Which ones does it wish to keep sharing with Wallonia? Given the size of the population of this fourth region, wouldn’t a Belgium with four be very unbalanced? In order to secure the financial sustainability of Ostbelgien, can a financing regime common to all four regions be suitable? Or would Ostbelgien need a special arrangement? And would the innovative deliberative governance it recently initiated be continued?
Language regime: Dutch and French Moderation: Béatrice DELVAUX (Le Soir) & Karel VERHOEVEN (De Standaard) Welcoming: Philippe VAN PARIJS (Re-Bel & UCLouvain) Introduction: Karl-Heinz LAMBERTZ (Präsident des Parlementes der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft) Challenges: Petra MEIER (Universiteit Antwerpen) and Christoph NIESSEN (UCLouvain) General discussion Concluding comments: Paul DE GRAUWE (Re-Bel & LSE)
Belgium’s current federal structure aims to facilitate policy making by allocating exclusive competences to the federal government and parliament on the one hand and to the governments and parliaments of Belgium’s regions and communities on the other. Both levels are sovereign in their respective domains. There is no hierarchy that confers primacy to federal legislation over regional and community legislation, in contrast, for example, with Germany’s federal system, where Bundesrecht bricht Landesrecht is one of the guiding principles.
However, the measures necessitated by the pandemic, the need to honour EU-level commitments on the climate and the controversies over Brussels’ air traffic noise norms and congestion charges led many to question the wisdom of dispensing with such a federal primacy principle. To avoid confusion, delays and blockages, would it make sense to allow the federal level to coordinate regional action, issue binding policy guidelines or even overrule regional and community legislation? In other words, should Belgium establish some form of hierarchy between the federal level and the regional level, possibly under specific conditions, such as emergency situations or the risk of failing to comply with European obligations? Or would this amount to depriving the regions and communities of some of their autonomy without any significant gain in the efficiency of policy making?
Language regime: Dutch and French Moderation : Béatrice DELVAUX (Le Soir) & Karel VERHOEVEN (De Standaard) Welcoming: Philippe VAN PARIJS (Re-Bel & UCLouvain) Introduction: Gwendolyn RUTTEN (Open VLD) Challenges: Johanne POIRIER (McGill University, Montreal), Patricia POPELIER (UAntwerpen), Marc UYTTENDAELE (ULB) General discussion Concluding comments: Paul DE GRAUWE (Re-Bel & LSE)
Whether expressed as “2+2”, as “3+3-2” or simply as “4”, there seems to be growing support for the idea that Belgium’s federal structure could be more legible and more efficient if it simply consisted in four territorially defined components: Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels and Ostbelgien. This would enable the parliaments and governments of each one of these components to exercise a more comprehensive and coherent set of competences. But in this simplified federal Belgium, how should the competences currently exercised by the Flemish and French Communities be efficiently reallocated and sustainably funded? Must the reallocation operate in the same way in all sectors, from culture and education to scientific research and the media, and must it operate symmetrically for the competences of the French and Flemish Community? Can the outcome be improved democratic accountability rather than wasteful duplication ?
Language regime: Dutch and French Moderation : Béatrice DELVAUX (Le Soir) & Karel VERHOEVEN (De Standaard) Welcoming: Philippe VAN PARIJS (Re-Bel & UCLouvain) Introduction: Sven GATZ (finance minister in the governement of the Region of Brussels-Capital) and Paul MAGNETTE (president of the Parti socialiste) Challenges: André ALEN (KU Leuven), Céline ROMAINVILLE (UCLouvain) and Willem SAS (University of Stirling) General discussion Concluding comments: Paul DE GRAUWE (Re-Bel & LSE)
Hoe kan het dialoogplatform over de toekomst van het Belgisch federalisme zo vruchtbaar mogelijk worden gemaakt ?
Comment rendre la plate-forme de dialogue sur l’avenir du fédéralisme belge aussi féconde que possible ?
How can the government’s “dialogue platform about the future of Belgian federalism” be made as fruitful as possible ?
In their joint policy note of 13 November 2020, the federal ministers for institutional reform and democratic renewal announced the creation of a “dialogue platform about the future of Belgian federalism” which they would chair and which would involve “a wide consultation of citizens, especially the young as well as civil society, the university world, experts and local authorities”. They also invite the Chamber to experiment with new forms of participation and set up panels that would be “invited to formulate recommendations to the Platform”. A report that includes the recommendations emerging from the Platform is expected to be submitted to the federal government by the end of 2021.
Such an unprecedented initiative is certainly a welcome response to the dissatisfaction with the current functioning of Belgium’s federalism, especially as it involves from the start in a common reflection citizens from both sides of the linguistic border. But is it not easy job to design it in such a way that it yields fruitful outcomes rather than even greater frustration. This webinar will invite the ministers in charge to explain how they see their bold initiative at this stage and it will share evaluations of analogous initiatives abroad and host a critical discussion of suggestions about what could be fruitful, by the stated deadline, in the present Belgian context.
Language regime: Dutch and French Moderation : Béatrice DELVAUX (Le Soir) & Karel VERHOEVEN (De Standaard)
Welcoming: Philippe VAN PARIJS (Re-Bel & UCLouvain)
Prologue: David CLARINVAL and Annelies VERLINDEN (federal ministers for institutional reform and democratic renewal)
Lessons from experience abroad: Conférences citoyennes (France): Hélène LANDEMORE (professeure de science politique à Yale University, auteure de Open Democracy, 2020) Klimaattafels (Netherlands): Ed NIJPELS (kroonlid van de Sociaal-economische Raad, voorzitter van het Klimaatberaad)
How best to proceed in Belgium: David VAN REYBROUCK (historian, initiator of the G1000 initiative), Hugues DUMONT (professor of constitutional law, Université Saint Louis)
Concluding comments: David CLARINVAL and Annelies VERLINDEN (federal ministers for institutional reform and democratic renewal), Paul DE GRAUWE (Re-Bel & LSE)
Tuesday 12 January 2021, 12.15-13.45 FR/NL Zoom Webinar
Comment faciliter la formation du gouvernement fédéral? Hoe kan men de formatie van de federale regering vergemakkelijken?
The exceptional length of the search for a federal government coalition after the elections of May 2019 stimulated thinking about the ways in which it could be facilitated. In a booklet published by the think tank Itinera (Pleidooi voor politieke renovatie/ Plaidoyer pour une rénovation politique), Christophe Convent makes a number of proposals: the replacement of proportional representation for most of the seats in the Chamber by a French-style electoral system, the possibility of minority governments, the calling of new elections after a certain time, and the creation of a federal constituency. Apart from a radical change in the electoral system — which raises many other issues outside the scope of our meeting — do any of these proposals offer any hope of accelerating the formation of our federal government? Are there any other more promising proposals?
Language regime: Dutch and French Moderation : Béatrice DELVAUX (Le Soir)/Karel VERHOEVEN (De Standaard) Introduction: Edoardo TRAVERSA (Re-Bel & UCLouvain) Lead speaker: Christophe CONVENT (DPG Media) Commentators: Anne-Emmanuelle BOURGAUX (UMons), François DE SMET(DEFI), Koen GEENS (CD&V & KU Leuven) Conclusion: Paul De Grauwe (Re-Bel & LSE) Prior registration indispensable. A zoom link will be sent in due course to all those registered.
Thursday 12 November from 12 to 1.30 pm 22nd public event of the Re-Bel initiative Zoom Webinar
Should our federal institutions be modified in order to better address the challenges of health in the 21st century? If so, how?
The webinar is coordinated by Erik SCHOKKAERT (KU Leuven and Re-Bel).
It will be conducted in Dutch and French and chaired by Béatrice DELVAUX (Le Soir) and Karel VERHOEVEN (De Standaard).
The introduction by Jan DE MAESENEER, professor emeritus, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, WHO Collaborating Centre on Family Medicine and Primary Health Care, UGent, will be followed by comments by Margot CLOET (CEO of Zorgnet-Icuro, a large network of Flemish organizations active in health care and other forms of care, formerly chief of cabinet of the Flemish minister for welfare and public health), Jean HERMESSE (economist, secretary general of the Christian Mutualities from 2007 to 2020), Jean MACQ (professor at UCLouvan’s Faculty of public health and the Institute Medecine & Society, and by an online Q&A session.
The webinar will close with the usual wise words by Paul DE GRAUWE (LSE and Re-Bel).
An opinion piece on this subject co-signed by the new federal minister of social affairs and health Frank Vandenbroucke, his chief of cabinet Ri De Ridder and two of our speakers, Jan De Maeseneer and Jean Hermesse, was published on 31 July 2020 in De Standaard and Le Soir. A longer version of this piece that can serve as background for our webinar can be downloaded from our site in French and in Dutch. Another opinion piece in which members of Re-Bel outline the main challenges is due to be published shortly before the webinar in De Standaard and Le Soir.
A Zoom link will be sent in due course to all those registered.
Thursday 17 September from 8pm to 9.15 pm 21st public event of the Re-Bel initiative Zoom Webinar
It is our pleasure to confirm Re-Bel’s first online public debate. It will be held on Thursday 17 September from 8pm to 9.15 pm, using Zoom, and address the question “Minority Government: why and why not ?”. Since December 2018, Belgium has been living under a minority government.
Since May 2019, it is in search of a party coalition that would be willing to form a majority government. Unsuccessfully so far. No wonder therefore that the idea of settling for a minority government has been voiced repeatedly and taken more seriously than ever before — the more so as several other democracies seem to get away with it without major upheaval. How sensible is the idea of a minority government in general, and in particular in the Belgian context? Even if a majority government ends up being formed this time, this question will keep surfacing in the future.
Re-Bel’s debate will be introduced by Bonnie FIELD, professor of political science at Bentley University (Massachussetts), author of Why Minority Governments Work (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and Lucien RIGAUX, assistant at the Law Faculty of the ULB, author of “Les gouvernements minoritaires en Belgique” (Revue belge de droit constitutionnel, 2019). These short introductions will be followed by a discussion with the online audience moderated by Kris DESCHOUWER, professor of political science at the VUB, chair of the European Consortium for Political Research and member of Re-Bel’s core group.
To register, please fill in the form below. A Zoom link will be sent to all those registered shortly before the event.
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