Intergovernmental Aspects of Disability Policies in Belgium
in Cameron, David, Fraser, Valentine (dir.), Disability and Federalism: Comparing Different Approaches to Full Participation, McGill-Queen’s Press, Montréal/Kingston/London, 2001, pp. 97-149
27 Pages Posted: 2 Jun 2016 Last revised: 8 Aug 2016
Date Written: November 26, 2015
Since 1970, Belgium has gradually been transformed from a centralised unitary state into one of the most decentralised federations. A well-established social security system, including disability programs, were already in force when the decentralization process started. The devolution of disability policy was not policy-driven, but driven by a desire for cultural autonomy. This paper attempts to find the fulcrum between this emerging federalism by dissociation and disability policy. A detailed examination of the manner in which powers over disability have actually been redistributed in Belgium provides an indication of the problems and complexities generated by a process designed for essentially cultural, not social policy, reasons. Interestingly, decentralization has had little actual impact on the content of policies. Despite a lack of formal coordination between governments, there is a fair degree of continuity in terms of programming.
Keywords: federalism, Belgium, disability, handicap, division of powers, social policy
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