Belgium's Adaptation to the EU : Does Federalism Constrain Europeanisation ?

  • Peter Bursens orcid logo


This article starts from the observation that the Belgian level of adaptation to the requirements posed by its membership of the European Union is surprisingly low. Following an institutionalist line of thinking, it is argued that the impact of the European Union is seriously constrained by the characteristics of the Belgian federal system. This results into defining both cultural (1) and structural (2) indicators for the degree of Europeanisation: (1) European opinions and awareness of political elites and the general public and (2) the Belgian domestic organisation of European co-ordination mechanisms. The article more concretely argues that the European opinions and European awareness of the political elites and the public opinion are coloured by an inwards-looking mentality that stems from the dominant focus on the ongoing federalisation process. In addition, it is also found that the limited Europeanised installation and outcomes ofthe European co-ordination mechanisms are at least partly shaped by hard and soft federal elements

How to Cite:

Bursens, P., (2002) “Belgium's Adaptation to the EU : Does Federalism Constrain Europeanisation ?”, Res Publica 44(4), p.575-597. doi:

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Published on
30 Dec 2002
Peer Reviewed