Primauté au fédéral? Voorrang voor het federale niveau?

Must federal legislation trump regional legislation?

Re-Bel Webinar, Tuesday 8 June 2021, 12.15-1.45 pm 

Background documents

Primauté au fédéral?
Johanne POIRIER, présentation au webinar Re-Bel du 8 juin 2021

Vers une hiérarchie entre Etat fédéral et entités fédérées?
Céline ROMAINVILLE et Karel REYBROUCK, Le Soir, 3 juin 2021

Krijgt het federale niveau de dirigeerstok van België?
Karel REYBROUCK en Céline ROMAINVILLE, De Standaard, 7 juni 2021


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)