Footnote 164, Chapter 7, Page 223:

The following discussion of the extent to which Canada is decentralized provides more details than the version comprising the central paragraph on Page 223. Comprehension of the effects of federalism in this case is facilitated through consideration of the extent of decentralization there, the influence of EU membership, and the relationship between consociation and federalism in Belgium. Deschouwer observes that that Belgium is now governed by “a fairly extreme kind of federation,” in which the “federal level has been almost completely emptied, and most of the powers have been given to the linguistic Communities and to the Regions.” Regional governments control “cultural policy,” education, “almost all” agricultural policy, “most” environmental policy, and foreign policy (including the ability to conclude and ratify treaties) in all areas in which “they are domestically competent.” While that is not a comprehensive list of policy areas governed by the regions, its diversity and depth illustrates how extensive federal decentralization is in Belgium. In several policy areas, it seems easier to identify those types of decisions which are still made at the federal level. For instance, regions are responsible for all environmental policy except that related to nuclear radiation, waste transit, and the marine environment. Deschouwer observes that Belgium “functions very much like a confederation, like an international organisation in which the agreement of all partners is needed to move along.” He argues that the extent of decentralization means that “to a large extent… there is hardly any Belgium anymore.” Billiet explain that “it is generally accepted that even more powers will be transferred from the federal government… in the near future” and so Belgium “may… evolve into a looser confederate or bi-national union.” Anecdotal evidence supports scholars’ general observations regarding this extreme decentralization. Billiet point out that, for the European Social Survey, Belgium is the “only country incapable of compiling its data under the leadership of one national coordinator.” Similarly, Belgium is the only state that sends “a delegation from both language communities” to participate in the standing committees of the European Science Foundation. It seems clear that Belgium is becoming highly decentralized but the desirability, and likely ramifications, of this development are not agreed upon by analysts of the country’s political system.