Belgium Report



It is, of course, very difficult to assess whether Belgian’s future Comprehensive Approach concept will be successful or not. This will only be possible after the Comprehensive Approach has been operationalised and lessons learned have been identified. Nevertheless, we can identify four main factors that might aid in its success. First, the fact that there already is a document approved by the federal government sends a strong and clear message to various government bodies in Belgium as well as to the outside world – namely, that Belgium has decided that a comprehensive approach to conflicts and crises is the best way to proceed. Second, there is an obvious multiplying factor resulting from the cooperation between the ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence. Indeed, these two traditional participants already have a long history of working together in addition to personnel of a very high quality and with much experience in collaborating with others. What’s more, although both departments will surely play major roles in Comprehensive Approach processes, the leading role will always played – and rightly so – by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Third, the fact that Belgium supported the Integrated Approach developed by the European Union contributes to better global coherence with activities of not only the European Union External Action Service, but also with those of the UN, NATO, the OSCE, the OECD and regional organisations. Fourth, the structures set in place to steer (steering group) and monitor (task force) the WGA process are light, flexible and pragmatic.
However, as discussed in more detail above, some aspects of the concept could unfortunately prevent it from achieving its full potential. First, the lack of a joint integrated budget and a well-defined joint human resources policy will likely cause some difficulties when it comes to operationalising the Comprehensive Approach. Second, if Belgium has to implement two operations at the same time, it could result in added complications. Third, operationalising the Comprehensive Approach could be made harder owning to the ‘constitutional lasagne’, so to speak, of the country, as its three levels of government – federal, regional and communal – will not have the same coalition governments and will most likely prioritise their own needs, which could make them reluctant to participate in joint efforts. But, as always, we will simply have to wait and see.
Back to Top