chapter  3
19 Pages

Multinational Federations: Reflections on the Belgian federal state

ByPATRICK PEETERS

The 2001 state reform1 is the fifth and most recent, but certainly not the last step in the process of transforming the former Belgian unitary state to a federal state. During the preceding stages of this transformation process, three communities and three regions were constitutionally acknowledged, each with exclusive legislative and executive powers for the subject matters that were entrusted to them. This process resulted in the solemn proclamation in the 1993 state reform that “Belgium is a federal state, composed of communities and regions.”2 This immediately refers to one of the most typical characteristics of Belgian federalism, namely a federal state composed of two types of member states (communities and regions) that partly overlap territorially.3 Much of the complexity the Belgian federal state is known for is due to this double-layered structure.