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Tijdschrift Res Publica x Jaar 1998 x

Belgian politics in 1997

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 3-4 1998
Auteurs Stefaan Fiers en Mark Deweerdt

    The so-called 'Dutroux-case'- the revelation of the kidnapping and the murder of four underaged girls and the apparent malfunctions of the judiciary and the police forces, was the most important issue on the 1997 political agenda. Unanimously, the Chamber of Representatives agreed upon the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into the bungled police investigation. Yet the unanimity disappeared quickly when the recommendations on the reorganisation of the police forces had to be implemented. New revelations of the Dassault-case, and the involvement of both socialist parties, put the government underpressure. The events themselves, and the discontent they caused in some majority parties, urged the government to revise the governmental programme. Guy Spitaels, chairman of the Walloon parliament resigned. Guy Coëme, former minister of Defence, alleged ofpassive corruption in the Dassault-case, was referred to the Supreme Court of Appeal by decision of the Chamber of Representatives.

Stefaan Fiers

Mark Deweerdt

La politique européenne de la Belgique

Les années 1970-1996: entre orthodoxie et pragmatisme

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 2 1998
Auteurs Christian Franck

    The 1969-72 period has shown an evolution in the belgian european policy. White instituional orthodoxy and federalist teleology had prevailed in the sixties, some pragmatism has been added since Prime minister Gaston Eyskens met President Pompidou in Paris in june 1972. Belgium accepts the launching of a cooperation among the national foreign policies outside the sphere of the EC institutions; regular summits of heads of government are also agreed on. Pragmatism doesn't weaken however the belgian concerns about orthodoxy. Belgian diplomacy is claiming a twofold orthodoxy. The "de lege fata" one insists on the compliance of the institutional practises with the legal provisions of the Treaties and on the extension of the scope of the EC policies by using the faculty provided by art. 235 EC. The constant refusal of the so called "compromis de Luxembourg" and the recurrent plea for the qualified majority voting, or the emphasis put on the powers of the Commission illustrate this kind of orthodoxy. The "de lege ferenda" orthodoxy consists of preventing institutional evolutions from closing the road to the long term federalist aims belgian diplomacy is still working towards for European integration. Hence some dilemmas between pragmatism on short term issues and some dogmatic rigidities which refer to the federalist finality. The discussion about twofold orthodoxy is grounded on a belgian positions' analysis on european affairs which covers the period from the end of the sixties to the belgian positions at the 1996 IGC. By the future perspective of a broader EU enlargement, Belgium will also face a new challenge: will its relative political weight be decreasing in the same time theUnion will extend? Which will be the price for accepting less Belgium in a larger Union?

Christian Franck

Het (Belgisch) middenveld en de Europese beleidsvorming

institutionele factoren binnen een meerlagig systeem

Tijdschrift Res Publica, Aflevering 2 1998
Auteurs Peter Bursens

    This article examines the organisation and strategies of Belgian interest groups and their European peak-organisations with respect to the EU policy-making arena. It conceptualises the European Union as a of multi-level governance political system that consists ofmultiple interlocking government levels (sub-national, national and supranational), governed by means of non-hierarchical actor configurations with a blurred boundary between the public and the private sphere. It further argues that the European policy-making can best be studied from a (historical) new-institutionalist perspective which emphasises that the preferences andthe behaviour of political actors are shaped by the institutional context which provides opportunities and constraints. Evidence of the institutionalfactors within a multi-level governance setting is then given from the organisational structure and strategies of Belgian interest groups in general and from the environmental policy sector in particular.

Peter Bursens

    Personnel management in localgovernment in Flanders bas undergone some major reforms during recent years. We examine the purposes and the extent of these reforms. Also, the new personnel management in Flemish local government is evaluated in terms of flexibility. The Flemish civil service can be considered as an Internal Labour Market. The rigidity which characterises the Internal Labour Market in local government in Flanders is shown by the fact that local government lacks discretion in elaborating the personnel statute, which still constitutes the basis of personnel management. However, the thesis that the public sector employment policy is too rigid has to be nuanced. The civil service is familiar with irregular forms ofemployment. Infact, in Flemish local government only half of all personnel are employed according to a statute. Despite some constraints on the development of more flexible personnel policies, it is still possible to find opportunities which provide hope for the development of new and modern personnel management strategies in local government.

Trui Steen

    Por the last decade, Belgian telecommunication policy has been characterised by a defensive, and sometimes even obstructive, attitude towards the liberalisation program of the European Commission. This paper analyses this policy on the basis of official governmental and administrative sources, corporate documents and insights gained through frequent contacts with the government and corporate representatives. The aim of this analysis is twofold. Firstly, this paper explains the Belgian attitude towards telecommunication as the result of a highly politicised corporatist national system of decision making. Secondly, this paper assesses this policy in terms of its international performance. By means of conclusion, a number of suggestions are made for a more proactive policy.

Pascal Verhoest
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