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Article

Belgian Politics in 2004

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 2-3 2005
Auteurs Sam Depauw en Mark Deweerdt
Auteursinformatie

Sam Depauw
Postdoctoral Fellow of the Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders at the University of Leuven.

Mark Deweerdt
Political Journalist of De Tijd.

    On May 29th 2005, 54.8% of the French population rejected the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe in a referendum. Three days later, no less than 61.8% of the Dutch voters followed suit. In the following days, commentators wrote that the French non and the Dutch nee made the EU face its biggest crisis ever. EU President Juncker stated that the EU did no longer inspire “dreaming”. Commission President Barroso warned of “permanent crisis and paralysis” in the EU. At the European Council meeting of June 16th and 17th 2005, European leaders agreed to insert a one-year period of reflection in the ratification process. Moreover, the idea of a deadline for ratification was abandonned. After EU members states also failed to agree on the 2007-2013 budget, a higly disappointed Juncker concluded that the EU found itself in a “deep crisis”.
    In comparison to the spring of 2005, the problems the EU faced in 2004 looked relatively easy to solve. However, this is not to say that 2004 should be seen as the calm before the storm. Indeed, the accession of ten new member states and the political agreement on a constitutional treaty made 2004 a milestone in recent EU integration history. Starting from the policy measures taken by the EU members states in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Madrid, this contribution focuses on the major political and economic developments in the EU in 2004. Special attention is paid to the elections for a new European Parliament, the Barroso-Commission taking office and the approval of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe.


Edith Drieskens
Assistente aan het Instituut voor Internationaal en Europees Beleid van de Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Bart Kerremans
Hoogleraar aan het Instituut voor Internationaal en Europees Beleid van de Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

    The hollow state is a metaphor for the process in which the position of the nation-state is weakened, as authority is transferred to the EU level or regional level (horizontal shift) and to the private domain (vertical). We argue that the analysis of this process should not focus narrowly on formal rules and sovereignty, but that the most fruitful approach is a thorough empirical assessment of the changes taking place in various aspects of the nation-state. Moreover, the scope should be broadened to include the transformation of political decision making: from government to governance. In particular, we discuss the consequences for the functioning of political parties. We conclude that member states indeed lose policy autonomy to EU integration, and have to share authority with several other actors. Yet, because of its ability to adapt to external challenges, the state remains a relevant and important entity.


Harmen Binnema
Doctoraal onderzoeker aan de Afdeling Politicologie, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Noël P. Vergunst
Postdoctoraal onderzoeker aan de Afdeling Politicologie, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Article

Centraal-lokale relaties in Vlaanderen: verdeel of heers?

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 1 2005
Auteurs Koenraad De Ceuninck, Carl Devos, Herwig Reynaert e.a.
SamenvattingAuteursinformatie

    An important element in the debate on the hollowed State is the extent to which the subsidiary idea caused a decrease in dominance of the central State and lead to a multifaceted process of decentralisation. A case in point is the recent regionalisation of the competency to organise local government in Belgium. Based on Page and Goldsmith’s three dimensions in intergovernmental relations between central and local government (functions, discretion and access), we test the discourse of the reform of the local government in Flanders to its practice. It is argued that the principles of a subsidiary founded municipal autonomy, a growing fiscal and functional discretion and a personal disentanglement of local and central decision-makers was inspired by northern European models of government relations. These, however, are only partially being confirmed by the praxis of the reforms, as the main principles of the existing southern European models persist.


Koenraad De Ceuninck
Assistent van de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent.

Carl Devos
Docent van de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent.

Herwig Reynaert
Docent van de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent.

Sofie Staelraeve
Assistent van de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent.

Kristof Steyvers
Doctor-assistent van de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent.

Tony Valcke
Assistent van de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent.

Dries Verlet
Doctor-assistent van de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen, Universiteit Gent.

    Representations of sub-national entities challenge since the mid-1980s the monopoly of the central states on EU representation. Through an analysis of their activities, this article verifies whether their presence may be interpreted as an expression of the hollowing out of the state. The research revealed that these representations have developed a national and an international strategy to fulfil their mission. The international strategy resembles that of interest groups in the European policy space, and it follows the neo-functionalist logic of other European interest groups. The national strategy is more policy-oriented. To influence the decision-making process, representations form networks between themselves and with their permanent representation. Rather than hollowing out the state, the activities of these representations reveal a growing interdependence between the central state and regional authorities resulting from European integration.


Michel Huysseune
Vorser aan de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

Theo Jans
Vorser aan de Vakgroep Politieke wetenschappen van de Vrije Universiteit Brussel.
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