De Croo wants some devolved powers returned

The Federal Deputy Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Flemish liberal) has called for a number of powers that have been devolved to the region to be given back to the federal state. Mr De Croo did so in an opinion article he wrote on the website of the Flemish news weekly Knack.

Mr De Croo believes that if the regions are unable to reach agreement on an issue, the federal level of government should be table to take it on.

"Stalemate has become an acceptable and much-used negotiating strategy”, Mr De Croo wrote.

According to Mr De Croo Belgium should take a leaf out of other federal countries books such as Canada, Germany and the US. He cited the example of the CETA free-trade treaty. "We made ourselves a laughing stock because not one, but 7 signatures were required from our country to ratify the treaty”.

Mr De Croo gives other example of how Belgium’s legislative structure is disadvantageous. For example in the areas of transport, the 4G network roll out, the Euro Stadium and aircraft noise nuisance around Zaventem Airport.

The Flemish liberal Deputy Prime Minister hopes to break the taboo on returning some powers to the federal level.

In 2010 it was Mr De Croo that pulled his part out of the Yves Leterme Federal Government. The elections that followed plunged Belgium into one of its longest ever political crisis.

After around one and a half years of negotiation a fresh round of devolution was agreed and more competences were transferred to the regions.

Although Mr De Croo says that he is in favour of federalism, he believes that the Federal Government should be able to step up in the regions and/or language communities can’t agree amongst themselves.