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Wallonia challenges two Flemish decrees before the Constitutional Court

The Walloon government filed an appeal on February 15 against two Flemish decrees that expand the powers of the Council for Permit Disputes, a Flemish administrative court, at the expense of the Council of State. Walloon minister president Elio Di Rupo confirmed this on Monday.

Di Rupo was questioned in the Walloon parliament’s committee by parliamentarians who were particularly concerned about the “nationalist tendencies of some ministers of the Flemish government” who aim for a “creeping defederalization of Justice and Belgian courts.”

Governmental powers

In contrast to a unitary state, the Belgian federal system distributes governmental powers across several levels. This distribution of powers is crucial and determines the balance between the autonomy of the communities and federal cohesion, as well as the status and financing of the communities.

Last summer, the Council for Permit Disputes, a Flemish administrative court, was given a number of new powers by decrees. In the future, the Council will have to rule on spatial planning dossiers that are currently under consideration by the federal Council of State.

After legal advisors analyzed the matter, Di Rupo explained that these Dutch-language decrees are likely to “violate the rule of the division of powers between the federal state and the regions.”

Violation

“The Council of State, the highest federal court, could lose a significant part of its administrative powers in certain areas. And this would be the result of the will of only one region. But the Council of State is based on a symmetrical structure, with a French and Dutch-speaking chamber. These changes would, therefore, violate the rights of the French-speaking members of the Council of State,” he added.

“The diplomatic move by the Walloon government shows once again the impasse in our country, where Wallonia can directly decide on the prosperity of Flanders,” said Flemish Environment minister Demir in a reaction. “The demand for a defederalisation of the judiciary and the administrative courts has never been more urgent and is once again justified.”

According to Di Rupo, contacts have also been made with the French Community, which has also appealed.

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