Chapter 6: Belgium and the Netherlands
This group consists of two very different countries, e.g. in terms of both federal–unitary structures and also PPP activities. In Belgium, the regions play an important role in policy making, whereas the Netherlands has unitary structures. There, the push for public sector modernization has had a huge impact on the adoption of the PPP approach. Furthermore, public tendering in the ‘Benelux’ countries is also known for its transparency and standardized procedures, which might reduce the chances of alternative methods such as PPPs. At central level, the Belgian federal government was very reluctant towards adopting PPP; at regional level, Flanders was the most active jurisdiction. Among the 14 states in our sample, the Belgian polity is the most volatile. The federalization of Belgium began in the 1970s and has not yet come to a standstill. After almost every federal election, the coalition negotiations led to a further step of institutional reform, with an overall tendency to transfer powers to the regional level. At regional level there is a unique feature: there are two state entities for each of the two main language groups, one in charge of cultural and social matters (the communities) and one in charge of territorial matters (the regions). This functional split results from the incongruence of territorial and cultural lines of separation (Krumm 2015). The ‘cleavage’ of Flemish and francophone identities shapes most areas of Belgian politics.
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