The internal policy of the current coalition government is primarily aimed at carrying out large-scale reforms of public life in the country. The need for them was identified quite clearly, since Belgium has been entrenched in the EU for decades as a country with a “sluggish social structure”. Quite a definite responsibility for the current situation lies with the Flemish and Walloon Christian Democrats, who for the first time in 40 years were forced into opposition. Check computerminus for political system of Belgium.
The main thesis in domestic policy is that the state federal structure of a country can be effective only when it is based on the principle of finding the necessary balance between the solidarity and financial autonomy of its three main regions. Permanent financial transfers from Flanders to Wallonia have always been considered controversial for wealthier Flemings (their per capita GDP is 10% higher). The main regions of the country should receive greater fiscal independence, with the right to moderate taxation rate maneuvering.
The coalition government as a whole managed to significantly improve relations between the main regions. This was achieved on the basis of regular meetings of representatives of the federal, regional and linguistic community governments. It was at this level that the problems of introducing greater autonomy of the regions in the conduct of tax policy, securing the right to independently resolve many local economic issues, problems of education and community culture were discussed. For the first time, political rather than linguistic-communal differences began to prevail within the coalition government.
As a result of such a large-scale administrative reform, which was aimed at eliminating tensions between the two main regions, the country entered a new stage in the formation of an effective federal structure. However, this problem is still one of the most difficult. According to polls, approx. 27% of Belgians believe that the presence of foreigners is always a concern. This is the highest rate in the EU. True, there is an opinion in the country that the current coalition government, which consists mainly of professional experts (the so-called forty-year-olds), is capable of solving these problems as well.
The foreign policy of Belgium is largely determined by its special position in the system of European integration. It is no coincidence that the main Belgian city is considered the “European capital”, and not only because many of the executive bodies of the EU are located in it. The term “Brussels officials” has long been synonymous with the EU’s ruling elite, which is not unfounded. This small European country has become a kind of experimental laboratory for the EU, as the ways of solving many of its problems become a benchmark for developing a common European strategy.
It is no coincidence that, according to the foreign policy concept of the current coalition government, Belgium seeks to come up with large-scale plans for the permanent expansion of the EU with its simultaneous transformation into a more centralized organization. First of all, we are talking about the creation of a new state structure, especially in the sphere of the formation of a common European foreign policy and combat-ready Armed Forces, in order to take their rightful place in modern world politics.
The Belgians believe that the role of small countries, acting together with several leading powers, can be unique in European construction. They are indispensable as intermediaries between large countries. It is small states in such alliances that can put forward strategic initiatives regarding development prospects, since it is difficult to suspect them of “imperial ambitions”.
The special role of Belgium in European integration was based on the unique experience of combining in this country two key European cultures – Latin and German (later Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian were added, and Slavic will soon appear). The country gradually turned into a “universal mediator”, without the efforts of which the adoption of any decisions is difficult. The Belgians hope to obtain for their country a status corresponding to the current position of Brussels, which has long been living on “world time”.
The country seeks to raise its “own voice” in world politics, relying on the principles of “humanity, democracy, protection of the weak, tolerance.” As part of European integration, Belgium, together with its partners in the Benelux, has put forward the concept of “enhanced cooperation”, which justifies for small countries the right to form small groups to “promote” certain projects within the framework of EU reform.
The country’s armed forces consist of the army, the air force, the navy and the federal police. The territory of Belgium is divided into three military regions (Brussels, Antwerp, Liege). The annual number of conscripts (men) is 63.2 thousand people. The draft age is 19 years old. Defense expenditures have reached almost $3 billion (2002), their share in GDP is 1.4%.
Belgium has diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation (established with the USSR in 1925).