The Communities of Belgium
The communities are federate political communities autonomous qualified as regards teaching, of culture, health policy, assistance to the people and, except with Brussels, of use of the languages.
The autonomy of the communities, like all federate political communities Belgian, is very wide because of the principle of the Exclusive competences which practically make conspicuous the Belgian Fédéralisme by the fact that it prolongs, without reserves, the autonomy of the entities federated on the international scene.
Three institutional communities
Article 2 of the Belgian Constitution stipulates that “Belgium includes/understands three communities:
- the the French Community,
- the the Flemish Community and
- the the German-speaking Community.
This enumeration is confirmed by the linguistic laws, in particular the law of July 30th, 1963 concerning the linguistic mode in teaching and the laws of July 18th, 1966 on the use of the administrative matter languages.
The population known as indigenous is made up of three cultural groups:
- Flemish , estimated at 58 % of the population, live to 98% in Flemish Région (and 2% in Area of Brussels), with minorities related to the various waves of immigrations, particularly with Antwerp (where an important part of the population is of recent immigration);
- Belgian French-speaking people, approximately 41 % of the Belgian population, are distributed between Wallons (80% of the total of the French-speaking people) and Bruxellois French-speaking people (20% of the French-speaking Belgians), with comparable multi-ethnic minorities (for example, with Brussels, the quarter of the French-speaking Inhabitants of Brussels are of recent immigration and resulting from the majority of the countries of the world);
- German-speaking of Belgium, less 1 % of the population, is approximately 70 000 people living in 9 communes along the German border.
Territoriality of the languages
The Belgian Constitution envisaged, in its article 4, four linguistic areas: the area of language Dutchwoman, the area of Brussels-Capital (bilingual French-Dutch), the area of French language and the area of German language (majority of the communes of the Cantons of the East). These four zones delimit the territories where each language is the official language, with in more thirty communes located close to the linguistic borders where historical minorities profit from Facilités linguistic.
The Communities thus do not represent directly the whole of the people speaking one about the official languages, but the inhabitants of the various linguistic areas.
Since the federalisation of Belgium, the three communities are represented by federate political communities having competences in the matter and culture, curricular area known as personnalisables. These institutions have their own Parliament and their own government.
A particular case is to be noted for the Flemish Région. The Area and the Community did not amalgamate strictly speaking, quite simply, the Flemish Area forever “not organized”, with the result that its competences are exerted by the Flemish Community.
Also let us notice that the Walloon region could have been amalgamated with the French Community, but that was not done for two reasons. On a side, the French Community is not very rich, and the regional members of Parliament did not want to pay for it. Of another, the fact is that the number of Inhabitant of Brussels pertaining to the French Community is much more important than that pertaining to the Flemish Community. Consequently, the Walloons refused that these Inhabitants of Brussels of the French Community can take share with the discussions as regards their Walloon region, which had been the case if the French Community and Area amalgamated. Fusion thus did not take place, and the opposite way was even undertaken considering the French Community transferred some from its competences to the Walloon region and the COCOF (French Community Commission).
Belgium has three official languages: French, Dutch and German. English is largely used, especially in the business world like in communications of the public institutions. More half of the population is Dutch-speaking, French being the second language, follow-up by far by German (spoken per less 1 % of the population). Brussels, the capital, is very mainly French-speaking; nevertheless the speech of Brussels vernacular is a dialect brabançon. French is there since Spanish times and Austrian the language of the nobility and the upper middle classes, like that of francized Flemings and of the Walloons and French come to settle since 1830 there, and, more recently, the language of intercultural communication of the great majority of the populations resulting from immigration (especially from France, of Italy, the Portugal, Spain, the countries of the the Maghreb and the Turkey) and even from the expatriates (European civils servant, inter alia).
Belgium knows Community problems which knew a greater intensity as from 1961, date on which the Flemish burgomasters refused the organization of the linguistic census which could have involved the linguistic change of status several communes in favor of the French-speaking people. This event led to the quasi final fixing of the linguistic Frontière in 1963, with the adoption of linguistic laws framing very strictly the territoriality of each language, then with the increasingly extended federalisation of the Belgian State.
The institutional and political evolution of Belgium shows an increase in the responsibilities allocate to the areas with the detriment of those of the communities. The Flemish Area and the Flemish Community do not form already any more that one institution and certain competences of the French Community were transferred towards the Walloon region and the French-speaking Community Commission from the Area from Brussels-Capital. The German-speaking Community for its part asserts more and more a statute which would make almost an area with whole share of it.
The only Belgian area where the institutional communities, in a form or other, seem intended for perdurer as a long time as the Belgian State, is the Région of Brussels-Capital, moreover considered by certain experts as an institutional model, possibly exportable or adaptable in various territories (Jerusalem, Cyprus, etc). It is in fact the only European area where the theories of the austromarxists on the federalism and main road-cultural autonomy were put into practice developed in the Empire Austro-Hungarian with the turning of 19th and of the 20th century.
- Political of Belgium
- Belgian Federalism
- Areas of Belgium
- Community Problems in Belgium
- Demography of linguistic Belgium
- Situation of Belgium
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