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The Independence of the Belgian Constitutional Court

  • Evelyne MaesEmail author
Chapter
Part of the European Yearbook of Constitutional Law book series (EYCL, volume 1)

Abstract

The independence of a constitutional court depends on the independence of the institution itself and of its members. This chapter argues that the Belgian Constitutional Court is a strong, independent institution. Its existence, competences and composition are entrenched in strong legislation: the Belgian Constitution and the Special Act on the Constitutional Court. The Belgian Constitutional Court also enjoys normative and operational autonomy. The financial autonomy of the Constitutional Court is however not fully guaranteed in practice, for two reasons. Firstly, the government forces the Constitutional Court to cut down on its expenditures, regardless of the consequences on its functioning. Secondly, the House of Representatives wants to have more control on the budget and the expenditures of the Constitutional Court than the Special Act on the Constitutional Court allows for at the moment. It is argued that more control by the House of Representatives would endanger the independence of the Constitutional Court and the principle of the separation of powers. It is furthermore argued that the independence of the constitutional judges is also quite well safeguarded. Nevertheless, the appointment procedure could be ameliorated by the obligation for Parliament to organize a public hearing before confirming the nomination of a candidate-judge. This would contribute to the legitimacy and thus independence of the Constitutional Court. Finally, it is argued that the accountability of the Constitutional Court could be reinforced if the Constitutional Court would use a more deliberative argumentation style and would allow separate opinions.

Keywords

appointment procedure budget and expenditures control Constitutional Court of Belgium deliberative argumentation style entrenched legislation financial autonomy judicial independence public hearing separate opinions 

Notes

Acknowledgement

I would specifically like to thank Mia Lozie for the great help regarding the translation of my contribution.

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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Saint-Louis UniversityBrusselsBelgium

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