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Unformatted text preview: light of Belgian capitalism’s detachment, Walloon leaders
demanded “structural reforms” and the substitution of public initiative for faltering private capitalism. This occurred in the
1960s, which marked the apogee of ideologized Keynesian economics.
In the meantime, the Flemish Region discovered an industrial vocation centred on a network of small businesses, i.e.
local capitalism, the attraction of the port of Antwerp and massive US investment in the 1960s. It also discovered that
within the Belgian state it had become the wealthy and thus the “transferring” entity to the Walloon Region, without which
it could manage very well.
Thus, Belgian federalism is the outcome of an “anti-French-speaking bourgeoisie” social movement, characterized in the
north by solidarity in respect of a language, which would turn into jealousy over a territory when the French-speaking
Brussels bourgeoisie swarmed out of the city, and focused in the south on a mythical economic autonomy that was
supposed to revive employment and preserve well-being.
One feature of that federalism was the introduction of a “language boundary.” Designed in the 1960s to determine
exclusive language areas for administrative purposes, French in the South, Flemish in the North, and the bilingual area
of Brussels as well, the border was further used to fix the territory of the Regions (see the appended maps) and received
a constitutional status making it quasi definitive. As a consequence, the bilingual Region of Brussels-Capital has a
territory clearly smaller than the one of the effective urban agglomeration of Brussels.
Today, Belgian federalism is part of a broader one more closely aligned with the European model. In certain fields, the
Belgian federal entity is now little more than an intermediate, almost useless cog between the Belgian Regions and the
European authorities. It is significant that, following the very recent Belgian institutional agreement in the spring of 2001,
which completed, in particular, the transfer to the Regions of jurisdiction over agriculture, a field that is clearly under
European responsibility, the federal minister of agriculture resigned, then promptly took up the same portfolio in the
Flemish government. 1.2. and some current data
Contemporary Belgium presents a number of contrasts.
In the heart of this small country of roughly 10 million inhabitants, “Brussels appears today like a large, highly
internationalized metropolitan centre that is benefiting from European unification and economic globalization, but its
development is obliterated by a political framework that limits its territory and reduces its possibilities for financing. In
contrast with the Flemish Region, Wallonia is experiencing a level of unemployment and economic development,
measured by per-capita GDP, that is more similar to the one of Spain than to the one of Germany or the Netherlands”
(Gérard, 1999, translated), as indicated in Table 1, drawn from Capron (2000). Furthermore...
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