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BELGIUM

Belgium is a country situated in Western Europe.

  • Its form of government is ‘a representative democracy headed by a hereditary constitutional monarch’. Nowadays, the monarch is King Philippe of Belgium, and the Prime Minister is Charles Michel of the MR party. (Doucy, et al., 2018)
  • It has frontiers with The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and France. Its official languages are French, Dutch, and German.
Camereroon
(Public domain)

Flag: Three horizontal stripes, one black, one yellow, and one red, which are associated with the former Duchy of Brabant.

 

 

 

 

  • Population: 11,420,163.
  • Territory: 30,528 km^2
  • Distribution:
    • Belgium is divided into three regions: Brussels-Capital, which includes the capital of Belgium and its adjacent territory; Flemish Region; and Walloon Region.The regions of Flanders and Wallonia are, at the same time subdivided into five provinces each.

 (Public domain)


  Flags of Wallonia, Brussels-Capital, and Flanders


  • It is also divided into three linguistic communities: a Dutch-speaking one, a French-speaking one, and a German-speaking one.
  • Most important cities: Brussels; Namur (capital of Wallonia), Charleroi, Liège and Mons in Wallonia; Antwerp (capital of Flanders), Ghent, Bruges, and Leuven in Flanders.
Belgium_RegProv
(John, 2017)
  • Currency: Euro (€), previously the Belgian Franc.
  • GDP: 528,436 M. US $
  • HDI (Human Development Index): 0.916

 

IMAGES:

John, S. (2017, November 2). Geography of Belgium – Federal state in located Western Europe. Retrieved from SM John.com: https://www.smjohn.com/article/geography-of-belgium-federal-state-in-located-western-europe

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Doucy, A. J., Van der Wee, H. F., Lamberts, E. L., L. V., Murphy, A. B., & Materné, J. J. (2018, December 3). Belgium. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Britannica: https://www.britannica.com/place/Belgium

 

3.1. BELGIUM DURING THE FIRST WORLD WAR

Belgium was severely affected by World War One. The main reason for this lies in its geographical location and its position of neutrality, which also affected the country during World War Two (for further information, see: 3.2. WORLD WAR TWO: German Occupation).

Belgium is situated, along with Luxembourg, between France and Germany, two States of great relevance during World War One. Belgium had declared itself as a neutral State the previous century, through the ratification of the Treaty of London in 1839, where it established that it would remain a neutral State perpetually.

440px-Leopold_ii_garter_knight
(Public Domain) Leopold II

Germany needed to pass through Belgium in order to get to France. Leopold II, at the time King of Belgium, did not accept the petition made by Germany (a petition of passage), in order to safeguard Belgium’s interests and its principle of neutrality.

After this, Germany decided to occupy the territory of Belgium given that they could not pass otherwise. This was a rejection to the neutrality of Belgium and was viewed very negatively after the war.

 

 

They started the invasion of Belgium with the siege of Liège. Belgium, unaccustomed to war, was very shocked by the invasion and quite unprepared. They formed an army in order to prevent Germany’s advances, which was not able to manage to stop the siege, given Germany’s modern warfare abilities.

German_occupation_of_Belgium_1914-1916.jpg
(Public domain)   Map of the occupation of Belgium

After this, Germany continued to occupy the territory but at a pace slower than the expected. This occupation was not homogeneous, and some regions of Belgium were occupied by different German regimes, with different degrees of repression.

Out of the many events that surrounded Belgium’s occupation, we can highlight the Yser army. The army of Belgium mainly concentrated on protecting the territory sheltered by the River Yser. This area of North-West Belgium was not occupied by Germany, and it was where Leopold II settled during the years of The Great War.

Germany tried to take advantage of social differences through the Flamenpolitik, which wanted to heighten Flemish discontent and fracture society. Most Flemish, however, did not fall for this strategy, given their distrust of Germany.

400px-Ypres_Belgium_NGM-v31-p337-B
(Public domain)                                                           The city of Ypres, victim of three battles.

Belgium was a victim of warfare throughout this period, and was very deteriorated by the end of the war. Considering that Belgium was one of the most densely populated countries in the world and with a very strong economic structure, it was a very

harsh period for the country.

The Armistice of 1918 symbolized the end of World War One and allowed Belgium to restore itself; Leopold II tried to regain control of the State along with the Belgian Government, visiting several cities before the Armistice was even signed; society tried to get back to normality, since during the War it had been very repressed and fractured.


BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Murphy, A. B., Van der Wee, H. F., Doucy, A. J., Lamberts, E. L., Materné, J. M., Van Molle, L., & Britannica, T. E. (2018, December 10). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from Belgium: https://www.britannica.com/place/Belgium/Belgium-and-World-War-I
  2. Schaepdrijver, S. D. (2018, July 18). Belgium. Retrieved from International Encyclopedia of the First World War: https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/belgium
  3. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2018, December 10). Belgium in World War I. Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgium_in_World_War_I

3. 6. BELGIUM: The beginning of the 21st century

We have done a cross analysis from articles of different newspapers such as: El País, Washington Monthly and the Telegraph.

In 2007 there were elections in Belgium. The result was a government composed by some different Parties. This coalition government was broken due to different ideas about the electoral and judicial district Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde, which is bilingual but has more francophone people.

Flemish Parties were in favor of maintaining the competences of the regions and communities, while Walloon Parties defended to preserve the status quo (‘existing state of affairs, particularly with regard to social or political issues’) (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia).

In June 2010, there were new elections, and the leader chosen by the citizens was the President of the National Flemish Party (NVA), which roots for Flemish independence. Nonetheless, the impossibility of forming government due to the different ideas of the six parties which participated in the elections led to a situation by which Belgium was without government for nineteen months.

1311298972_0
(El Mundo, 2011)

Despite the fact that the one who won the elections was a Flemish leader, whose Party was voted by around 6,5 million of flemish people, the Belgian President was finally a francophone leader. The coalition leader, Elio di Rupo, was the first Belgian francophone President since 1974.

 


 

The Walloons had an electoral census that surrounded the 4,5 million votes and  the new coalition government did not include the National Flemish Party. This Party expressed its discontent in the case in which there were more Ministers from the Francophone minority than from the Flemish majority.

Finally, we must highlight that the Belgians were forced to end their dispute and to form Government due to the start of the Euro crisis. As Belgium is heartquarters for the European Union and is its administrative territory, it was essential that the State was governed and that the parties achieve an urgent solution.

In the middle of all this conflict, the crisis of 2008 was emerging all around the world. The most important banks in Belgium had several and serious problems of liquidity, and the effects of the crisis were devastating: one of its biggest banks, Dexia, was bailed out by France and the Belgian State; Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg bought Fortis (the most important bank in Belgium), and many companies bankrupted. All of those factors and the political conflict sank the country during this period.Dexia_logo                     Lobo BNP Paribas Fortis


IMAGES

  1. El Mundo. (22 de 7 de 2011). Los partidos políticos de Bélgica se comprometen a formar Gobierno. El Mundo.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. El País. (1 de December de 2007). Bélgica agudiza su crisis política. El país.
  2. El País. (29 de September de 2008). Bélgica estudia tomar el control de Dexia para salvarla de la crisis. El País.
  3. El País. (1 de December de 2011). Bélgica cierra la crisis política con un acuerdo para formar Gobierno. El País.
  4. Smith, R. A. (9 de October de 2013). How Belgium Survived 20 Months Without a Government. Washington Monthly .
  5. Waterfield, B. (6 de December de 2011). Belgium to have new government after world record 541 days. The Telegraph.

3.5. BELGIUM: POLITICAL PARTIES

The evolution of Belgium’s political history is deeply associated to its social development. When the linguistic conflict reached its climax (for further information see: 1.1. LINGUISTIC CONFLICT: COMPETENCES), the main political parties subdivided into two branches: a Flemish-speaking one and a French-speaking one. Nowadays, political parties still maintain this subdivision. Even though they share common objectives, they are separate organizations.

Previously,  three parties were the most influential in Belgium’s political history: The Socialists, the Catholics, and the Liberals.

  • The BSP or Belgian Socialist Party, was a centre-left oriented political party which originated from the BLP, or Belgian Labor Party, which was dissolved in 1940. It did not function properly until 1945, after the german occupation of Belgium.

However, it subdivided in 1978 into the Parti Socialiste (PS; French variant), and the Socialistische Partij Anders (sp.a; Dutch variant). They share similar objectives which focus on social progress, the increase of public services, and a reduction of economic and social differences.


    (Public domain)

  • The Christian Social Party (CSP), which was a centre-oriented political party, was the successor of the Catholic Party (CP), and was created in 1945. It was dissolved into two branches in 1968.

These two parties are Centre Démocrate Humaniste (CDH; French variant) and the Christen-Democratisch en Vlaams (CD&V; Dutch variant). They are based on Catholic ideas and defend values such as reconciliation and cooperation; they both defend a certain degree of Statal intervention.


(Public domain)


  • The Party for Freedom and Progress, which was a right-centre oriented political party, was founded in 1961. Its predecessor was the Liberal Party, which was the first political party in Belgium.

Actually, the party exists as the VLD or Open Vlaamse Liberalen en Democraten in Flanders, and the Mouvement Réformateur in Wallonia. They both defend neoliberalist ideas such as free market, the reduction of taxes, and the limitation of Statal intervention.


(Public domain)


As we can see, the parties are basically the same, with only punctual differences. The only main difference is the languages which the parties use. Due to that, they often collaborate in decision-making processes, given their common ideals. Since they only speak either French or Dutch (Flemish), their areas of main influence are usually limited to the linguistic community which speaks their language.

We can also see parties such as Vlaams Belang and Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, which claim for the independence of Flemish territory, arguing the social, cultural and linguistic differences that they have with the rest of the State.


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(Public domain)


WEBGRAPHY:

  1. Rivera, R. (2018, March 19). Belgian Political Parties 101. Retrieved from be. – brussels express: https://brussels-express.eu/belgian-political-parties-101/
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2017, August 9). Christian Social Party (Belgium, defunct). Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Social_Party_(Belgium,_defunct)
  3. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2018, November 30). Belgian Socialist Party. Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_Socialist_Party
  4. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2018, November 30). Party for Freedom and Progress. Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party_for_Freedom_and_Progress

3.4. POLITICAL INSTABILITY. Conservation of peace and Consociational democracy

Belgian society is well known for its social diversity. This diversity can have several advantages if handled properly, but can lead to several quarrels and confrontations when it is not well managed by the country’s government. Belgium’s situation during the XX th century would probably correspond to the latter. The linguistic and ideological differences have resulted in the establishment of this system.

We have to remember that Belgium is divided into two main areas: Wallonia and Flanders. Even though they both have common roots and belong to the same country, they have many differences (political, cultural, linguistic, economic…), which have provoked several crisis. (for further information: 1.1. LINGUISTIC CONFLICT: COMPETENCES)

Language Communities
(Jansson, 2016)

According to the book ‘Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945‘ a consociational democracy is a ‘political system replete with mechanisms for resolving conflicts and protecting minorities in a deeply divided society.’  

As a result of this, the political system was very fragmented, but remained stable. These social differences have often led to the absence of a political party with the voting majority. That explains the great amount of coalition governments that have existed in Belgian history.

In order to maintain peace and avoid disputes, the Government has, over the years, increased public spending until it has surpassed its budget constraint, leading to a maintained situation of public deficit throughout the majority of the XX th century.

This situation has been aggravated by political irregularities. The Belgian government was very unstable throughout the century, with different political parties ruling over the country. To this change of political parties, we have to add the difficulty of the legislative power to approve laws.

All of these factors have damaged Belgian economy through the intensification of the public deficit. This situation had to be corrected because public deficit can decelerate economic growth.

Belgische_staatsschuld
(Reiskoffer, 2006)

In this graph we can see through three different sources that the public debt of Belgium started an upward trend during the 80’s decade, which did not stop until the beginning of the 90’s decade, after which, it started a downward trend until 2005. Afterwards, probably due to the Crisis of 2008, it has continued to increase.


WEBGRAPHY:

  1. Jansson, B. (2016, December 27). What is Wallonia? Belgium’s Unusual Federal System. Retrieved from Political Geography Now: https://www.polgeonow.com/2016/12/what-is-wallonia-in-belgium.html
  2. Reiskoffer, D. (2006, January 26). Evolution of the Belgian GDP. Retrieved from Economy of Belgium:                              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Belgium

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945. Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

 

2.6. OWNERSHIP OF BELGIAN FIRMS. Why are there no belgian multinationals?

Familial economy:

The ownership of belgian firms has been decisive in the economic evolution of the country. Most of the firms were owned by belgian households. For that reason, we say that Belgian economy was a very familial economy, made up of family led enterprises.

Most of them refused to take unnecessary risks and decided to keep acting in their comfort zone, without stepping out of it. This aversion to risk and limited frame of action prevented progress development.

Another characteristic of family owned companies is that they center on short-term profits, which does not allow for long-term planification.

Multinationals drastically transformed Belgian economy. With the arrival of globalization, many foreign multinational firms started establishing their headquarters in Belgian territory (for further information, see: 1.5.2. THE RISE TO POWER OF FLANDERS). The combination of these two factors has resulted in the scarcity of Belgian multinationals.

Foreign firms  aided Belgium’s economy because they brought with them a different way of doing business. They are strong investors, focused on long-term projects, that plan their actions and act with a specific pattern.

The importance of holding companies:

Aside from the fact that Belgium’s economy was familial, we also have to relate this to the importance of holding companies in Belgium throughout the XXth century.

A holding company is a company which, through the purchase of shares of other firms, acquires a high degree of control over them.

holding-company-edit.jpg
(Roberts, 2015)

In Belgium, holding companies had a very particular development. Previous to World War One, these companies were seen as important tools to mobilize capital throughout the economy and as providers of economic growth.

 

 

However, during the interwar period, they started concentrating exclusively in the domestic market and in the Congo. Instead of representing economic growth, they started symbolizing anti-competitive behaviour and control. This was because they focused on keeping control over their subsidiaries instead of promoting development, which led to many people arguing that they were aiding the creation of cartels. As we now know, this is partly true, because many holding companies tried to keep hold of the coal and steel market, letting it develop, even if they knew it was becoming obsolete.

 

b76_0063a.jpg
(Public domain)

A perfect example of this is the case of the Société Générale de Belgique, one of the biggest holding companies in Belgium at the time, which invested in the domestic market and in the Congo.

 

 

 


 

IMAGES:

Roberts, P. (5 de November de 2015). Reasons To Do Business In Ireland – Holding Companies. Retreiverd from Roberts Nathan: http://www.robertsnathan.com/reasons-to-do-business-in-ireland-holding-companies/

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945. Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

2.5. THE BELGIAN FRANC

Belgium 1835 40 Francs.jpg
(Public domain)

The Belgian franc was the currency of Belgium throughout the XIXth century. Monetary policy was of huge relevance during the century, given that the relative value of a currency determines the amount of exports and imports the country using the currency will have.

Generally speaking, Belgium has always tried to keep the currency at a constant level, without big depreciations or appreciations of the currency. 

However, if we look at the different economic periods of the century, we can see some differences.

MW-EZ870_gold_b_20161109130257_ZH.jpg
(Market watch, 2018)

At the beginning of the 30’s, Belgium, like many other States, started pegging their coin to gold in order to stabilise the value of their currency.

 

 

 

This managed to keep the franc stable until 1935, when Belgium  left gold, which resulted in a devaluation of the frank of 28%. This decision has been questioned afterwards. The stability provided by pegging the coin was not reflected in economic benefits or progress of great magnitude.

Before Belgium left the Gold Standard, two important events took place: The Crack of the stock market in 1929 and the withdrawal of Britain from the Gold Standard, which put Belgium at an economic disadvantage.

During the 1940’s, the coin was devaluated in 1949, following the trend started by Britain. Some years later, in the 1950’s period, there was an appreciation of the currency in order to maintain monetary stability.

EXPORTS.png
(Daily Pioneer, 2017)

From 1970 to 1982, the currency was appreciated. This appreciation worsened the situation of the Balance of Payments, since an appreciation of a currency tends to lead to a decrease in exports and an increase in imports, which is what happened in the case of Belgium. This appreciation of the currency was translated into an increase in inflation.

 

Finally, during the end of the century, the currency followed a path of devaluation in order to respond to the previous years of inflation.

As we can see, the currency was constantly trying to be under balance, with periods of appreciation of the currency being followed by periods of depreciation. The currency of a country is a very important tool, but in the case of intensively commercial countries, it is necessary to keep it regulated and under control in order to have a positive commercial balance.

For this reason, we can say that monetary policy (which nowadays is restricted due to the fact that Belgium is in the Euro Zone), though a very important mechanism to regulate macroeconomic variables, was not used intensively in the case of Belgium, since they preferred to keep the currency under control to prevent huge commercial imbalances among other reasons.


IMAGES

  1. Market watch. (1 de November de 2018). Gold settles at a more than 3-month high a day after posting a 3-week low. Obtenido de Market watch: https://www.marketwatch.com/story/gold-rallies-from-three-week-low-as-dollar-index-sinks-2018-11-01
  2. Daily Pioneer. (14 de July de 2017). India’s June exports rise by over 4%. Obtenido de Daily Pioneer: http://energolife.info/ua/2017/Business/5557/%D0%92%D0%B8%D0%B7%D0%BD%D0%B0%D1%87%D0%B8%D0%BB%D0%B8–%D0%BD%D0%B0%D0%B9%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%89%D1%96-%D0%B4%D0%BB%D1%8F-%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%BF%D0%BE%D1%80%D1%82%D1%83-%D0%BA%D1%80%D0%B0%D1%97%D0%BD%D0%B8.
  3. Murphy, A. B., Van der Wee, H. F., Doucy, A. J., Lamberts, E. L., Materné, J. M., Van Molle, L., & Britannica, T. E. (2018, December 10). Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved from Belgium: https://www.britannica.com/place/Belgium/Belgium-and-World-War-I

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  1. Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945.Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press.

 

 

3.3. BELGIUM: FROM CENTRALIZATION TO DECENTRALIZATION.

Originally, Belgium was a unitary and centralized State. However, the events which took place along the XIX th century resulted in the decentralization and federalization of Belgium.

Brabant’s territory was divided through the St. Michael’s Agreement of 1992 into three regions: Flanders Brabant, Walloon Brabant and Brussels.

map_belgium

(D, 2016)


const_small
(Belgian Constitution 1831)

In 1993, the Belgian Constitution (1831) was modified in order to legalize the process of federalization of the State. This modification had as main objective to solve the different disputes among territories (Flanders and Walloon), in order to create a climate of peace and coexistence.


‘Article 1: Belgium is a federal State composed of Communities and Regions.’

‘Article 2: Belgium comprises three Communities: the Flemish Community, the French Community and the German-speaking Community.’

‘Article 3: Belgium comprises three Regions: the Flemish Region, the Walloon Region and the Brussels Region.’

These three articles established the federalization of Belgium and its division into linguistic communities and regions.


Federalization has had a very important counter-effect. While thought to improve the tense social climate, and generate a more peaceful environment within the territory, it has managed to divide Belgian society even more.

This is because the decentralization of Belgium has implied the delegation of several competences to the linguistic communities. Nowadays, the coordination of policies is very complex, since most of the decisions are taken at the Regional level, and not at the Statal one. This political organization has divided the State into two completely different social structures.

It is a clear demonstration that actions taken long ago still affect countries to this day; a decision that was oriented towards reconstruction has had the opposite result from the expected one.


IMAGES

  1. D, J. (27 de October de 2016). Why is Belgium a country? Retrieved from Lexiophiles: https://www.lexiophiles.com/english/why-is-belgium-a-country
  2. Belgian Senate. (1831). DE BELGISCHE GRONDWET. Obtenido de Belgian Senate: https://www.senate.be/doc/const_nl.html

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. State, P. F. (2015). Historical Dictionary of Brussels. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.

WEBGRAPHY:

  1. D, J. (27 de October de 2016). Why is Belgium a country? Obtenido de Lexiophiles: https://www.lexiophiles.com/english/why-is-belgium-a-country

 

2.4. SMALL STATE, OPEN ECONOMY

Belgium occupies a very small territory in comparison to other States, but that is not related to its Balance of Payments. Like many other small countries in Western Europe (such as Switzerland), exports and imports have a great importance in Belgian economy. Many economic studies have tried to show the relation between the size of these States and their Balance of Payments.

govt-to-miss-exports-imports-cad-targets-1495140039-1845
(The Nation)

 

This article will try to give a quick overview of Belgium’s Balance of Payments situation throughout the XX th century.

 

 

 

The composition of Belgium’s exports is closely related to its economic structure. Belgium is characterized for the production of semi-finished goods. In order to do this it needs to import raw materials and energy, which it lacks, specially since the independence of the Congo (for further information see: 1.4. BELGIAN COLONIALISM AND THE INDEPENDENCE OF THE CONGO). In terms of exportations, it exports the products it has transformed into semi-finished goods, charging for the value added through the process of transformation.

During the golden sixties, there was a recovery in the Balance of Payments. This recovery leads to a downfall due to the oil shock of 1973 in the year 1980, where it had the worst result of the period.

However, the 1980’s were very positive in terms of exports and imports. This upward trend is owed to the efforts made by the government to improve the balance of payments. In 2008, the crisis ends with this commercial growth (see graph below).

After Belgium’s incorporation to the EU, Belgium’s trade balance has changed. However, it has not changed that much in terms of numerical increases, but in terms of distribution. It now shares a more commercial relation with the EU members than it did before, but the amount of total exports and imports has not drastically changed.


Resultado de imagen de balance des paiements belge

(Actualitix, 2016)


In this graph from Actualitix, we can see the evolution of the Belgian Balance of Payments. It has had a negative balance from 1980 until 1984. However, after that it started increasing until the end of the XX th century. In the following century we can highlight the downfall in 2008 due to the Crisis of 2008, a moderate recovery in 2010, and a continuous growth path from 2014 onwards.


IMAGES

  1. Actualitix: https://fr.actualitix.com/pays/bel/belgique-balance-des-paiements-pib.php
  2. Kundi, I. A. (19 de May de 2017). Govt to miss exports, imports, CAD targets. Obtenido de The Nation: https://nation.com.pk/19-May-2017/govt-to-miss-exports-imports-cad-targets

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945.Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press

2.3. OIL CRISIS

The Golden sixties crowned Belgium as one of the economies with more merit within the international plane: Belgium had got neither raw materials nor an export agriculture, but its power during the industrialization process was the key for its achievements.

ARTSTOR_103_41822001833092.jpg
(Foundations of Western Europe, s.f.)

However, the 1970’s radically changed the situation. In 1973 the oil shock affected all European countries in great measure. Due to Belgium’s dependence on other countries, its exports fell by 11%, which caused a deceleration of its economic growth.(for further information: 2.2. GOLDEN SIXTIES) This resulted in a disequilibrium of the economy.

 

 

Chris-Hume-return-of-the--007
(Macalister, 2011)

This was one of the worst periods for the country’s economy, which worsened its position in the international plane.

According to ‘Economic Growth in Europe since 1945‘, we can divide this period of crisis into two periods, one in which the disequilibria of the economy worsened, and one in which the government tried to take hold of the situation and stop the crisis through several policies.

This first period lasted all of the 1970’s. Due to the oil shock, energy prices started to rise. The domestic economy, which was not involved in the international plane, was not as affected by this as the domestic economy, which was open to other economies. That is because the open economies had to compete in the international market and could not regulate the prices of their goods, while the firms which were not internationally open were able to regulate the price of their products in order to keep their profit as before the prices rose.

The second period comprised the 80’s decade. This period was based on the prevention of the expansion of the crisis. For this reason, the government applied several strategies and policies, such as the devaluation of the franc or the reduction of public employment. These measures contributed to the recovery of the country, but did not manage to increase the economic growth rate.  

Captura de pantalla 2018-12-11 15.13.20

(Centre for Economic Policy Research, 1996)


  • As we can see in the following table, the macroeconomic data of the decade known as the ‘Golden Sixties’, are, overall, higher than in any other period; it is subdivided into (1960-1967) and (1967-1974).
  • All of the macroeconomic variables move more or less together; when we  move to another economic period, they either increase altogether, or decrease altogether, with very few exceptions. The magnitude of these increases/decreases, however, is different. In this table, two economic periods are represented, both the Golden Sixties, and the Leaden Seventies and Eighties.
    • The great downfall in exports from the (1967-1974) period to the (1974-1981) period. These results of the Exports growth are the highest and the second lowest of the economic period (10.78; 4.39). This is due to the effects of the oil crisis in Belgium’s foreign demand for domestic goods.

IMAGES:

  1. Foundations of Western Europe. (s.f.). The Beginning of Industrialization in Britain. Obtenido de Foundations of Western Europe: http://foundations.uwgb.org/cause-and-effect/
  2. Macalister, T. (3 de March de 2011). Background: What caused the 1970s oil price shock? The Guardian.
  3. Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945.Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

  1. Centre for Economic Policy Research. (1996). Economic Growth in Europe Since 1945.Cambridge; New York; Melbourne: Cambridge University Press

3.2. WORLD WAR TWO: German Occupation

Belgium was declared as neutral during World War Two. The Belgian administration thought that this position of neutrality would be less damaging for Belgian citizens. In order to prove that neutrality, Belgium left some international treaties which it had ratified in the context of World War One.

However, in the year 1940 the Belgian army surrendered to the German army. This led to the start of German occupation and the Belgian government considered that having limited cooperation with the Germans was the best option. It was thought to be the best choice within the seriousness of the situation, so it could be interpreted as an action of survival. Besides, Leopold III, who was Belgium’s king in that period, had always been seen as someone with authoritarian ideas.

Nonetheless, the limited cooperation turned into active supporting by some groups in Belgian regions such as Flanders or Wallonia, where fascists parties had been created before the war: The Walloon Rexist Party and the Flemish National Union.


            Flemish National Union                                                   Walloon Rexist Party

(Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, 2018)


German occupation in Belgium was not as intense as in other European States. In 1940 a resistance movement, ‘The Belgian Resistance’, was created. In the first years of occupation that organization was not really active, but its activity expanded in 1944, when some resistance members killed 1000 Flemish and Walloon fascist collaborators. As a result of that, there was a civil war in Belgium and many reprisals were taken against the resistants.

BelgianresistanceMarderI.jpg
(ericadeane, 2007)


Picture of the Belgian resistance during German occupation


In 1942, repression by fascist Germans increased and Jews who lived in Belgium were persecuted and taken to concentration camps. This also contributed to the increase in the activity of the Resistant Members.

Belgium was liberated in 1944 by the Allied forces: British, Canadian and American, and by the Brigade Piron, which was a unitary army formed by soldiers from Belgium and Luxembourg who joined together in order to fight against the Nazi’s regime. 

Brigade-Piron-300x259
(Public domain)


Brigade Piron


Once the war finished in 1945, the Belgian Resistance managed the surrender of 20000 German soldiers. Finally, the resistants came back to the civil plane after a victory parade in Brussels.

It is necessary to point out that in this period, in 1948, women obtained the right to vote.


(This video reproduces the liberation of the Belgian population)


IMAGES

  1. D-Day and Battle of Normandy Encyclopedia. (s.f.). PIRON BRIGADE – 1ST BELGIAN INDEPENDENT GROUP. Obtenido de D-Day and Battle of Normandy Encyclopedia.

WEBGRAPHY

  1. D-Day and Battle of Normandy Encyclopedia. (s.f.). PIRON BRIGADE – 1ST BELGIAN INDEPENDENT GROUP. Obtenido de D-Day and Battle of Normandy Encyclopedia.
  2. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (2018, September 30). Retrieved from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vlaams_Nationaal_Verbond
  3. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (14 de November de 2018). Bélgica en la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Obtenido de Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/B%C3%A9lgica_en_la_Segunda_Guerra_Mundial
  4. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (14 de November de 2018). Ocupación alemana de Bélgica durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial. Obtenido de Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocupaci%C3%B3n_alemana_de_B%C3%A9lgica_durante_la_Segunda_Guerra_Mundial
  5. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (19 de March de 2018). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Obtenido de https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rexist_Party: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rexist_Party
  6. Women Suffrage and Beyond. (s.f.). Belgium. Obtenido de Women Suffrage and Beyond: http://womensuffrage.org/?page_id=97