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Creating Archival Legislation in a Federal State: The Case of Flanders

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Creating Archival Legislation in a Federal State: The Case of Flanders
Bart Severi

Archives without borders
August, 30th 2010
Peace Palace, The Hague

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Creating Archival Legislation in a Federal State: The Case of Flanders

  1. 1. Creating Archival Legislation in a Federal State The Case of Flanders
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>The Need for New Archival Legislation </li></ul><ul><li>The Political Path to a Decree on Archives </li></ul><ul><li>Key Success Factors during the Lawmaking Process </li></ul><ul><li>A Creative Process of Lawmaking </li></ul><ul><li>Fundamental Choices </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Need for New Archival Legislation <ul><li>Outdated Federal Law (1955) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>inaccurate reflection of Belgian political structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>mandatory transfer after 100 years </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no lifecycle of records perspective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>no sanctioned inspection mechanism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>general sense of confusion, e.g.: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>tension between privacy and public access </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>diversity of access tariffs </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. The Political Path to a Decree on Archives <ul><li>Numerous failed attempts </li></ul><ul><li>Three major phases from Flemish perspective: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1970-1994: attempting to modernize the Federal Law on Archives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1994-2007: consulting with the Federal Government </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2007-2010: taking initiative to create own legislation </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. 1970-1994: attempting to modernize the Federal Law <ul><li>Several bills to amend the Law </li></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Hugo Marsoul (1992) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cancelled due to insufficient political consensus </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. 1994-2007: consulting with the Federal Government <ul><li>Change of tactics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>wg of Senators and MPs called for formalized cooperation between Federal and regional parliaments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> deemed necessary because Federal Government did no longer have sole authority to change this law </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>E.g. Hugo Marsoul (1993): draft Flemish decree: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>focus on taking up Flemish powers </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>urge for formal cooperation with Federal Government </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>several attempts to start talks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>but always postponed </li></ul></ul></ul>
  7. 7. 2007-2010: taking initiative to create own legislation <ul><li>MP’s urged Flemish Govt to create own decree </li></ul><ul><li>formal cooperation with Federal Govt no longer considered prerequisite </li></ul><ul><li>2007: Flemish Govt installs wg </li></ul><ul><ul><li>resulting in the Decree of 9 juli 2010 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>But: Federal initiatives succeeded as well </li></ul><ul><ul><li> old Law was modernized </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. Key Success Factors during the Lawmaking Process <ul><li>Federal Law: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>government backing was crucial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in a Programme Law: minimal political discussion </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Flemish Decree: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>matured self-consciousness </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>government backing </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>vitality of the field </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>increased expertise in administration </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. A Creative Process of Lawmaking <ul><li>Better regulation: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>regulatory impact assessment (RIA) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Systematic approach: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>context analysis: 8 problematic fields </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>roadmap: strategic options </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>preparation stage: collecting data and expertise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>desktop research </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>original research: large-scale survey of 600 public bodies </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>expert panels </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>external methodological guidance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>impact assessment: costs and effects of options </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>consultation of stakeholders </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>political decision </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Fundamental Choices <ul><li>No mandatory transfer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>extremely common worldwide </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>seen as a guarantee for proper conservation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> each public body is responsible: archiefzorg (< subsidiarity ); archiefbeheer can be outsourced </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Fundamental choices <ul><li>No obligation to destruct records </li></ul><ul><ul><li>appraisal and selection put under govt control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>public bodies can choose to keep records longer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Form of new supporting organization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>internal, govt-controlled </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>not: external, govt-sponsored </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> archiefzorg is quintessential task for public bodies </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Fundamental choices <ul><li>No charges for access </li></ul><ul><ul><li>but charging for services is possible </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Publication of finding aids in a central db </li></ul><ul><li>Privileged access for researchers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>to non-public archives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>< 2006: open letter from the professional field </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>only ‘scientific’ purposes, no ‘commercial’ or genealogical </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. The Decree and beyond

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