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Unformatted text preview: n December 24,
1970. This decision gave Belgian federalism one of its defining characteristics, i.e. the twofold federalism mentioned
earlier, which Cattoir calls “the coexistence, next to the federal level, of a dual federated one.”
The second stage allowed for the definition of the fields of jurisdiction of the Communities and the territories of the
Regions, introduced the merging of the Flemish Community and the Flemish Region, and attributed financial means to
the federated entities, through the so-called “special” laws of August 8-9, 1980, voting on which required a majority in
each of the two linguistic groups in the federal parliament and an overall two-thirds majority. At that time, Cattoir has
noted, the financing for the Regions was assured primarily by a transfer from the central government defined in light of
three identically weighted criteria, i.e. population, revenues generated by personal income tax and surface area (the socalled “three-thirds” rule), and the financing for the Communities was based on a 45/55 rule, corresponding, by and
large, […] to the relative demographic importance of the French and Flemish Communities.
The third stage, in 1988-1989, saw the establishment of the Brussels-Capital Region, with its specific bodies, including
the Community commissions (under the special law of January 12, 1989), the transfer to the Communities and Regions
of new fields of jurisdiction (nearly one-third of state spending, under the special law of August 8, 1988), and the
organization of a modified financing system that placed greater emphasis on the principle of territoriality from the
standpoint of tax collecting (under the special law of January 16, 1989).
The year 1993 marks a turning point in the history of Belgian federalism. It is then, writes Cattoir, that the State became
federal and residual power was attributed to the federated entities: the so-called “Saint-Michel” and “Saint-Quentin”
agreements (each referring to the saint’s day on which the agreement occurred) gave the Communities and Regions
new means, attributed new fields of jurisdiction to the Regions, especially in the realms of agriculture and foreign trade,
and transferred certain jurisdictions from the French Community to the Walloon Region and the French Community
commission of the Brussels-Capital Region (under the special law of July 16, 1993).
The spring of 2001 saw a new round of negotiations among the political parties with a view to further broadening the
fields of jurisdiction of the federated entities and their ability to gain broader control over the means at their disposal.
Simply stated, the Flemish parties wanted broader fiscal autonomy, especially in order to reduce taxes, and the Frenchspeaking parties wanted more extensive means to fund education, an endemic problem in the French Community, which
had been bled white financially for many years. Valenduc (2002) has noted that the recent institutional or ‘Saint11
12 The fact that there is no Community sub-nationa...
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