Movement towards a Flemish Constitution : the Charter for Flanders, another failed attempt?
Faculty of Law
Perspectives on federalism
, p. 141-E-163-E
University of Antwerp
A Constitution for Flanders has been preoccupying Flemish politicians and scholars for over twenty years. On 23 May 2012, the majority parties presented in the Flemish Parliament the Charter for Flanders. Since Flanders only has embryonic constitution-making power, this is not a proposal for a Constitution but merely a proposal for a resolution. As a (non-binding) resolution, the Charter has no legal implications, but rather an important political value. First, the text reveals a strong connection with the EU. The Charters drafters interwove the fundamental right provisions in the Belgian Constitution with those in the Charter of Fundamental Rights for the European Union, which resulted in an expansive fundamental rights catalogue. Furthermore, the Charter contains a clear political commitment; it gives the impetus to a Constitution of Flanders in the framework of the constitution-making Flanders ought to acquire. The Charters preamble also confirms that Flanders is a nation with its own language and culture. The lack of participation of opposition parties and citizens in the drafting process was met with fierce criticism. The dossier slumbered in the competent commission without any parliamentary debate for two years. In 2013, the Christian Democratic Party announced that the dossier would be reactivated. However, this did not occur before the Mother of all elections (regional, federal and European elections) in May 2014. As a consequence, the proposal for a Charter expired. It is unclear if the new Flemish Government composed of the Flemish-Nationalists, the Liberals and Christian-Democrats will revive the Charter for Flanders. Hopefully, this reactivation will at least be accompanied with intense parliamentary debates and textual clarifications. Especially, since the drafters consider the Charter a stepping-stone to a (legally binding) Constitution for Flanders.