chapter  9
23 Pages

Social Redistribution in Federalised Bea Cantillon, Stijn Rottiers

ByBelgium Veerle De Maesschalck

In recent decades, Belgium has been transformed from a unitary into a federal state in which the various Communities and Regions have their own designated areas of competence. In the field of social policy, only social security has remained the responsibility of the central government. However, there have been calls for further federalisation in this area of policy-making. Various arguments have been put forward in favour of such a reform, the most prominent of which is the occurrence of interregional financial transfers and the assumption that these transfers may explain Wallonia’s inability to close the socio-economic gap with Flanders. Opponents of further federalisation point out that, among other things, federalisation would result in greater poverty and inequality in Wallonia, a Region that is already disadvantaged in economic terms. In this contribution we start with an outline of the territorial organisation

of social policy in a federalised Belgium. Next, we analyse social transfers between Flanders and Wallonia, focusing on the size and determinants of these transfers. We demonstrate that these transfers have a considerable

equalising and anti-poverty effect. In the third section we explore the theoretical arguments for and against federalising social policy in further depth and provide several examples. The last section provides an overview of the discussion and indicates some future policy directions.