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Unformatted text preview: on and the elaboration of the means used.
Beyond its complexity, and perhaps because of it, Belgian federalism is an interesting, even fascinating experience,
insofar as its profile changes depending on the question at hand: the federated entities that assume responsibility for
cultural or personal matters do not exactly cover the geographic areas of the federated entities that are responsible for
questions more directly related to the territory, such as the economy. Is this not an attempt, albeit an imperfect one, to
recognize the multifaceted nature of humankind? Moreover, is it not an attempt to reflect in institutional mechanisms that
belonging to a culture or the sharing of a language are not necessarily identified with rootedness within a clearly defined
territory? An economist, theorist or practitioner of the public economy knows that relevant territory with respect to public
property may vary depending on the property: the territory of a theatre differs from that of a centre for disabled workers,
which, in turn, is not the same as that of a job-creation policy in an area experiencing negative growth. 1. A LOOK AT THE PRESENT As I indicated in the introduction, an examination of the present demands a brief look at history and some relevant
contemporary data. 1.1. A bit of history…
Belgium1 is a hodgepodge resulting from the assembly, through marriage, conquest and treaty, of a series of geographic
entities, vassals of the king of France or the German emperor, dotted with cities jealous of their privileges. In the 15th
century, the same person was the prince of a series of earldoms and duchies that included, broadly speaking, in addition
to other territories that are now part of France, such as Franche-Comté and Burgundy, the current kingdoms of Belgium
and the Netherlands, excluding the episcopal principality of Liège, whose territory at the time covered a large part of
Wallonia and the Flemish province of Limburg. It is his descendant, Charles V, who also became king of Spain, emperor
of Germany and sovereign of part of Sicily and the Americas, who proclaimed in 1519 the indivisibility of the
Netherlands, comprising 17 provinces.
The success of Protestantism in these territories, more so in the northern than the southern portion, threatened the unity
of the 17 provinces and encouraged Philip II to engage in internal reconquest, which stopped just north of Antwerp. This
boundary of the Catholic reconquest, attributable to the sovereign’s decision to turn his arms instead against England (in
what became the Invincible Armada fiasco), determines even today the border between the Kingdom of the Netherlands
(the United Provinces, which became independent in 1579) and the Kingdom of Belgium. The 10 southern provinces
remained Spanish, then became Austrian in 1713 before becoming independent in 1790, very briefly as the “États
Belgiques Unis,” or United Belgian States, i.e. several states, not just one state, in which central power was...
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