BBC focuses on Belgium

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BBC author give one explanation as to what could be at the heart of some of Belgium’s financial woes.

2 October 2008

BELGIUM -- The website of the British public broadcaster BBC has launched a series of articles about the future of Belgium. The series entitled "Coming Untied?" looks at the differences between Flemings and Francophones. According to the series' author Henri Astier, these differences lie at the basis of the political impasse that "has paralysed the country" for the past 18 months.

In his first article, Henri Astier says that many Flemish taxpayers question why money from Flanders should be used to help Wallonia, a region they consider to be backward and badly run.

He cites the example of roadside speed cameras. Although there are many more such cameras in Flanders than in Wallonia, the money made from speeding fines is distributed by the federal authorities.

Consequently, Wallonia receives far more cash than is made in fines originating from the speed cameras on its patch.

Henri Astier writes that Flanders is a prosperous region with a hard-working population and beautiful cities such as Antwerp, Ghent and Bruges.

He also points to the Walloons' reticence when it comes to greater autonomy for Belgium's regions and language-communities.

Meanwhile, the Flemings are in favour of greater devolution.

Mr Astier concludes, "the consequence of this is that Belgium has not had an effective government since the elections in June 2007."

The article contains interviews with local politicians from both sides of the language divide as well as with ordinary Flemings and Walloons.

[ / Expatica]

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