Belgium is a federation in turmoil. Politicians of the two language communities find it increasingly difficult to reach common ground on many issues. Social policy stands in the middle of these tensions. At present, social federalism in Belgium is still at an immature stage. However, as a result of constitutional reform in the course of the last decennia social policy has become embedded at the regional, the federal as well as at the European level. Moreover, the more prosperous region of Flanders has expressed the wish to develop its own social protection, and introduced among others a Flemish Care Insurance. These developments have resulted in the creation of a “layered welfare state”.
The authors of this book critically assess the current stage of social federalism in Belgium and ask how against the background of the major challenge of an ageing population an effective social policy can be shaped. The book considers at which level the bulk of an effective social policy is best situated, what the role of the sub-national entities can be, and which limitations are imposed by the constitutional and European framework. The various forms of power allocation are considered for social federalism in Belgium.
From the perspective of various scientific disciplines and averse to any political dogma, this book pleads for a more nuanced thinking on social federalism in Belgium.
With contributions by J. Beyers, P. Bursens, B. Cantillon, N. Mussche, B. Peeters, P. Popelier, H. Van Goethem, J. Vanpraet, J. Velaers and H. Verschueren. And reflections by K. Banting, A. Benz, C. Jeffery, J. Poirier and F.W. Scharpf.
About this book
‘In this very informative book, eminent scientists tackle the way in which social policy in Belgium is developed on a federal basis in what could be called a new European “laboratory”. […] The book is […] extremely comprehensive and contains several contributions to demonstrate how the European dimension has a huge impact on the domestic constitutional workings of Union member states…’
Michel Theys in Bulletin Quotidien Europe (15 June 2011)
‘The present book comes just at the right time. […] The editors must be applauded for bringing together authors from law, sociology, history and political science on this topic. The resulting book looks at the current architecture from multiple – but, for the most part, complementary – perspectives. Moreover, the explicit comparative framing, aimed at an international readership, is very welcome. It makes some of the arguments of the Belgian debate – which, naturally, takes place mostly in Dutch and French – available to an international audience. One could almost say that the book adds a ‘new’ case to the comparative literature – and not just any case, but one that is still evolving and displays numerous fascinating policy dynamics. [this] is an impressive interdisciplinary volume which deals with a fascinating case. It should be read not only by scholars of Belgian politics and policy but by everyone who is interested in the study of federalism nd the welfare state.’
Peter Starke in 2012 EJSS 52
Belgium – challenging the concept of a national social security. A short history of national partition (p. 21)
Towards a multilevel welfare state? On the relative autonomy of regional social policy (p. 45)
On the possibilities and limitations of a layered social security system in Belgium. Considerations from a social efficacy perspective (p. 67)Bea Cantillon
Social federalism and the allocations of powers in a comparative law perspective – the case for shared powers (p. 97)Patricia Popelier
Social citizenship vs. the territoriality principle: lessons for Flanders’ solidarity circle (p. 171)Ninke Mussche
European legal limitations to the repartition of fiscal competences in a federal state structure (p. 227)Bruno Peeters
Reflection by Arthur Benz. Federalism and social policy in Belgium (p. 255)
Reflection by Fritz W. Scharpf. Multilevel government – Suggestions for and learning from Belgium (p. 261)
Belgium, as seen from elsewhere (p. 267)
In praise of cowboy federalism: juridical and political federalism in Belgium and Canada (p. 273)
Layered social federalism: from the myth of exclusive competences to the categorical imperative of cooperation (p. 279)
The Social Europe Series gives the reader more than an introduction to the social systems of the member states of the European Union. It offers the social security expert with comparative experience the opportunity to place his or her knowledge of (aspects of) foreign social security systems in a broader national context. The series facilitates the broad comparison of the national systems, by describing them according to a uniform structure.
Editorial board: Michael Adler (University of Edinburgh), Anne Davies (University of Oxford), Guus Heerma van Voss (University of Leiden), Frank Hendrickx (University of Leuven & Tilburg University), Frans Pennings (Utrecht University), Sophie Robin-Olivier (University of Paris X Nanterre), Achim Seifert (University of Luxembourg ), Sara Stendahl (Göteborg University) and Bernd Waas (Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt).
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