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Belgium:towards a multilevel welfare state?Peter BursensAntwerp Centre for Institutions and Multilevel PoliticsDepartment ...
towards a multilevel welfare state?Multiple pressures to decentralise welfare state policies away fromthe federal level:  ...
towards a multilevel welfare state?    institutional preferences of regional political elites:         regional elites pre...
towards a multilevel welfare state?    impact of European integration and globalisation:        federal level looses monop...
towards a multilevel welfare state?federal level deadlock:    large numbers of veto players at the federal level lead to d...
towards a multilevel welfare state?    Hollowing out of the federal welfare state towards the EU?    Cultural heterogeneit...
towards a multilevel welfare state?    Hollowing out of the federal welfare state towards the regions?    Political prefer...
towards a multilevel welfare state?Conclusion:   “What is emerging in Europe is a multileveled, highly fragmented   system...
centralisation or decentralisation ?Case: Flemish Care Insurance (Vlaamse Zorgverzekering)   - Flemish system of personal ...
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Towards a multi-level welfare state in Belgium?

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Professor Peter Bursens of Antwerp University describes the complex nature of social welfare policy in Belgium, where policy development at the regional and EU levels operate in parallel to the core social protection responsibilities of the federal government.

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Transcript of "Towards a multi-level welfare state in Belgium?"

  1. 1. Belgium:towards a multilevel welfare state?Peter BursensAntwerp Centre for Institutions and Multilevel PoliticsDepartment of Political Science
  2. 2. towards a multilevel welfare state?Multiple pressures to decentralise welfare state policies away fromthe federal level: institutional preferences of regional political elites policy preferences of regional political elites impact of European integration and globalisation regional identity building by regional political elites deadlock at the federal levelResult: upwards and downwards hollowing out of the federal levelor evolution towards a multilevel welfare state ? 2
  3. 3. towards a multilevel welfare state? institutional preferences of regional political elites: regional elites prefer to take over from the federal level thosepolicy domains that are not or will not be covered extensively by theEuropean level => welfare state policies are targeted by regional elites policy preferences of regional political elites: diverging social-economic parameters trigger diverging policypreferences and calls for decentralisation of these policies => welfare state policies are targeted by regional elites 3
  4. 4. towards a multilevel welfare state? impact of European integration and globalisation: federal level looses monopoly as a public goods supplier increasing competition forces states to focus on the mostcompetitive regions => this strengthens economic heterogeneity and triggers electoral success of regionalist parties in strong economic regions regional identity building by regional political elites: welfare state policies are used as instruments of nation building: regions look for policy ownership 4
  5. 5. towards a multilevel welfare state?federal level deadlock: large numbers of veto players at the federal level lead to deadlock, non decisions and leave little room for policy innovation => welfare policies are targeted by regional political elites=> Will these factors, including European integration, eventually lead to the creation of an autonomous regional welfare state? 5
  6. 6. towards a multilevel welfare state? Hollowing out of the federal welfare state towards the EU? Cultural heterogeneity and divergent political preferences provide onlylimited incentives to upload social (security) policies strictu sensu to theEuropean level But: the EU becomes increasingly active in supplementing, supportingand coordinating national policies => the federal welfare state survives, but as a part of a Europeanmultilevel system 6
  7. 7. towards a multilevel welfare state? Hollowing out of the federal welfare state towards the regions? Political preferences are so divergent among political elites that aconsensus on decentralising welfare state policies seems very unlikely At the same time, this triggers regional entities to develop socialpolicies in niches that are not yet (fully) covered by the federal level => the federal welfare state survives, but as a part of an intra-Belgian multilevel system 7
  8. 8. towards a multilevel welfare state?Conclusion: “What is emerging in Europe is a multileveled, highly fragmented system in which policy develops but is beyond the firm control of any single political authority’ (Leibfried and Pierson, 1994 !!!) 8
  9. 9. centralisation or decentralisation ?Case: Flemish Care Insurance (Vlaamse Zorgverzekering) - Flemish system of personal assistance on top of federal social security arrangements for those living and working in Flanders - after complaints by the French Community, the ECJ ruled that it should also apply to EU citizens living outside Flanders (also in Wallonia) but working in Flanders (but not to Belgian citizens living in Wallonia but working in Flanders) - crucial is that the ECJ did not mingle in domestic policies and therefore indirectly affirmed the Flemish authority to develop social policies complementary to federal social security benefits ⇒In this case, the tendency towards more autonomy was indirectly supported by ‘Europe’ However, this ‘victory’ has triggered the Flemish government to announce the development Flemish child allowances and hospital insurance. It is yet unclear how the ECJ will react to these intentions. 9
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