Europäisches Journal für Minderheitenfragen

ISSN 1865-1089(Print)
ISSN 1865-1097 (Online)

Abstract Had the Prussian districts Eupen and Malmedy not been annexed to Belgium as a result of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, and had Belgium not been transformed into a Federal State in the second half of the 20th century, the current Statute of Autonomy of the German-speaking Community would never have come into existence. From the author’s perspective, for Belgium’s future development, a Federal State with the four constituent states of Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels and the German-speaking Community would be the logical continuity of the past development. Without doubt, such a Federal State would comply with the four institutional realities that have consolidated since the Unitary State has come to an end, realities to which a vast majority of the respective population feels strongly attached.

Abstract In several projects, thanks to the political support they receive, historians in the German-speaking Community of Belgium focus on the interrelation of this minority and the neighbouring regions. By this they aim at strengthening a commemoration in dialogue with the Dutch- and French-speaking Belgians. In the past, such a commemoration in dialogue failed due to language barriers and the existence of historical traumas suffered by the different communities, but not acknowledged by the rest of the population, characterizing the cultures of remembrance of Flemings, Walloons and the German-speaking Belgians. This article discusses the impact of both the First and the Second World War, as well as the reorganization of Belgium, converting it from a centralized to a Federal State, on the different cultures of remembrance of Belgium’s linguistic communities.

Abstract For more than a year, the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate of Belgium have been creating legislation to implement the Institutional Agreement of October 11, 2011, the cornerstone of Belgium’s Sixth state reform. Although it were the Dutch- and French-speaking Communities who negotiated it, this new state reform also has some important consequences for the German-speaking community. The current article aims at briefly describing them.

Abstract German is both a national language (i.e. a language being spoken in Belgium) and an official language of Belgium. This fact, along with the presence of German-speaking members in both the Federal Parliament and the Walloon Regional Parliament, implies that those members should be able to use their language in these assemblies. The current article shows that German-speaking members of parliament are effectively entitled to use their language orally and in writing. However, speeches made and documents tabled in other languages, i.e. French and Dutch, are not systematically translated into German. Moreover, this article also shows that German-speaking members only rarely make use of the right they have to use their mother tongue in the aforementioned assemblies. In their view, there are other, more effective ways to serve the cause of the German-speaking Community than to use German in the Federal Parliament and in the Walloon Regional Parliament.

Abstract This article demonstrates how the federalisation of the Belgian state enhanced the political and linguistic position of the German-speaking minority in Belgium. It outlines the history of a translation committee founded to remedy the lack of legal texts in German, which later developed into a committee in charge of determining the official German legal terminology for Belgium. It describes the special challenges met in creating a consistent and binding legal terminology and points out how this terminology contributes to legal security. After analysing the position of the German language in Belgium, this article reasons that, notwithstanding the achievements made, the situation is still not satisfying.

Abstract This article analyses the creation of the Eupen judicial district, Belgium’s only German-speaking judicial district, and its specific characteristics, in particular the difficulty to recruit new court magistrates. When the Federal Government decided to thoroughly reform the map of Belgium’s judicial districts, the Eupen judicial district almost disappeared. This was avoided thanks to an unprecedented mobilization of both political and judicial leaders. Although the Eupen judicial district was preserved, it was completely reorganized and no longer resembles Belgium’s other judicial districts. In Eupen, judges are appointed at the same time at the Court of First Instance, the Labour Court and the Commercial Court, and the public prosecutors are appointed both at the King’s Prosecutor’s Office and at the Labour Prosecutor’s Office. If this judicial structure is exceptional in today’s judicial landscape, it reminds of the spirit of the Judicial Code that initially proposed the creation of a unique tribunal. There are, nevertheless, still some differences. Although this new and unique structure has allowed the Eupen judicial district to survive, it also has its disadvantages: the Eupen magistrates will have to be knowledgeable about any subject matter within the jurisdiction of the judiciary and will have to display an unparalleled versatility.

Abstract Belgian federalism often appears to be split up in two parts, to be conflict-ridden and not sharing any common objectives. This impression is not deceiving, but it also holds true that constructive dialogues put into effect e.g. by the Centre Harmel have established the foundations for a common doctrine. In contrast to the model reducing the institutional structure to the conflict of two communities, during the 19th century a territorial system evolved that was based on the language territories finally determined in 1963: Flanders, Wallonia, the bilingual Brussels district, and the German territory. The project of a “federalism of four”, described in this article, grants this territorial system its own place in an innovative system, in which four constituent “states” rebalance the Federal State by transforming it from a bipolar system to a polycentric system.