The first and second State reforms

The first revision of the Constitution in 1970 resulted in the setting-up of the three cultural communities. From the legal viewpoint, that meant the start of the process of State reform.

The birth of the three cultural communities is, as the name suggests, a sign of a certain autonomy in relation to culture. However, the powers of those cultural communities are still extremely limited.

This reform is a response to the pursuit of cultural autonomy by Flemish people.

In 1970 the foundations were laid for setting-up three Regions. They each have their own territory and are mainly expected to be active in the economic field. The Regions are a response to the pursuit by French-speakers - the Walloons and French-speaking people of Brussels - for economic autonomy.

In 1980, the second State reform took place. The work that started in 1970 was continued.

In 1980, the cultural communities became known just as Communities. That happened because the Communities decided not only about cultural matters but also matters relating to the individual, in other words health and social services.

As a result, from 1980 these three Communities were known as the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community. These Communities were each given a Council (their Parliament) and a Government.

With the State reform of 1980, two Regions were also established: the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region. They also had a Council and a Government. Please bear in mind the following: in Flanders, the Government and the Council of the Flemish Region merged with the Government and the Council of the Flemish Community. So in Flanders, there is only one Government and one Council for the Community and the Region.

The French-speaking population did not choose to merge the institutions of the French Community and the Walloon Region. There are many more French-speaking people in Brussels compared with French-speaking Walloons than there are Dutch-speaking people in Brussels compared with people in Flanders.

Another important feature of this second phase in 1980 is that the Brussels Region, although recognised in 1970, was (with regard to its institutions) put on 'hold'.  But that changed in the next, third State reform.


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