Managing Change in an Era of Globalisation
Edited by Bernard Gazier and Frédéric Bruggeman
Chapter 4: Belgium: A Corporatist Regime
Frédéric Naedenoen INTRODUCTION Context The current Belgian system1 is the result of ﬁve successive reforms that have established increasing levels of independence at both community and regional levels. The three Communities (French, Flemish and Germanspeaking) correspond to groups within the population, which share the same language and culture, whereas the three regions (Wallonia, Brussels Capital and Flanders) are the result of the desire of particular linguistic groups (both Walloon and Flemish) for greater economic independence. The economic situation of the three regions diﬀers sharply (with Flanders performing better than Brussels Capital and Wallonia), and, consequently, so do their unemployment rates2 (which stand at 7.71%, 21.29% and 19.6 % respectively). The management of restructuring in Belgium is made more complex because issues relating to employment are dealt with at two levels, the federal and the regional. Moreover, there is often federal involvement in matters which generally fall under regional jurisdiction: an important example of this is the collapse of the Belgian airline company Sabena. The Belgian Federal Government acted as a substitute for the failing business in terms of its obligations to compensate its employees, thereby exceeding the role of the federal state as deﬁned in legislation.3 In this instance, the Belgian Federal Government set out a restructuring programme for all of the airline’s workers, whereas the Belgian constitution accords this type of jurisdiction to the regions (the three regions in this particular case). Evolution In Belgium the ﬁrst applicable principle is the freedom of a company...
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