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Unformatted text preview: ax competition because of
its central geographic position and the limited size of its territory. Furthermore, consideration of Brussels’ specific nature
in the reform is once again largely insufficient. It is not so much a question of the federal government’s financially
assisting Brussels with respect to its role as a multiple capital but of finally recognizing its status as a City-State, as is
72 218 The Flemish region has already announced that it intends to adopt various measures in this regard, in particular the elimination of the radio-TV fee, a
reduction in registration fees, estate taxes and duties on gifts, the tax on the opening of drinking establishments, and so on. Commission on Fiscal Imbalance 73 the case in other federal countries. Some observers have gone so far as to ask whether the application of a general
law system for Brussels is not purely and simply discriminatory.
In the wake of voting on the Lambermont agreement, Belgian federalism is developing in the direction established by the
reforms of 1980. The federal government is more decentralized at present and its fields of jurisdiction are diminishing for
the benefit of the regions, not the communities. However, it appears that Belgium is heading for a more mature
federalism, i.e. a federalism that is leaving more leeway for cooperation between federated entities, although one may
regret that horizontal solidarity is declining and risks weakening this federal structure. There is hope with respect to the
gains to be derived from a federal structure, above all if we give credence to the efforts announced in terms of the
management of taxation. The implementation of effective regional and community decision-making processes is one
positive effect of tax competition, which compels the entities to be more efficient.
As for the future, we know that this form of federalism is not permanent, because a federal structure is never stable, as
witnessed by the permanent changes in federations as experienced as Switzerland, and because the Flemish
community makes no secret of its desire for broader autonomy. All of the entities must be prepared for future progress.
However, we must ensure that such progress is constructive and desired by all parties and do everything possible to
avoid progress precipitated by the financial problems of one of the entities concerned, as has been the case this
time.With regard to the form and organization of these negotiations, we wish to highlight the work method adopted and
the concessions made in order to conclude the agreement.
The work method applied during the negotiations was criticized on more than one occasion. Despite the avowed
intention to achieve transparency and rigour, financing mechanisms continue to be extremely complicated, which leads
to opacity in debate, directed by technicians instead of political representatives, an effect reinforced by the urgency of
debate. A consequence of this urgency is that the effective implementation of the special act is not a...
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