(Con)federalism: Cure or Curse?

11th Public Event of the Re-Bel initiative
Thursday 19 June 2014, 2-6pm

An e-book based on this event was published in July 2015:
(Con)federalism: Cure or Curse?

Belgium is officially a federal state. The French-speaking Community of Belgium has changed its name from “Communauté française” to “Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles”. Several Flemish proposals for a further reform of Belgium put forward a “confederal” model, most often based on the premise that the current federation does not function properly. The choice of these words and the fierce debates about their meaning call for some reflection. How useful is it to use these terms for describing and re-thinking Belgium? If a unitary state that was transformed into a federation now faces further demands for confederalism, what does it tell us about federalism as an institutional solution for divided countries? Does federalism tend to appease tensions or to intensify them? And what would confederalism do? Is (con)federalism a cure or a curse?


1.30pm: Registration

2-3.45 pm
: Paul De Grauwe, London School of Economics & University of Leuven

Part 1: How useful are the classic terms of federalism and confederalism for understanding and planning the structure of the state?
Chair: Erik Schokkaert, University of Leuven
Introduction by John Loughlin, University of Cambridge
Comments by
Johanne Poirier, University of Brussels (ULB)
Jan Velaers, University of Antwerp

3.45-4.15 pm: Coffee break

Part 2: The paradox of federalism. Does federalism pacify or reinforce ethnic tensions?

Chair: Bea Cantillon, University of Antwerp
Introduction by Kris Deschouwer, University of Brussels (VUB)
Comments by
Michal Keating, University of Aberdeen
Philippe Destatte, Institut Jules Destrée

Conclusions: Philippe Van Parijs, Universities of Louvain & Oxford

6pm: Reception