The Belgian legal reaction to the covid-19 pandemic: an overview

This paper is submitted in my capacity of scientific co-editor of a voluminous book that has been published in French in February 2022 and which describes and analyses the Belgian State’s response to the covid-19 pandemic: F. Bouhon, E. Slautsky and S. Wattier, Le droit public belge face à la crise de covid-19 [Belgian public law and the covid-19 pandemic], Brussels, Larcier, 1084 pages). It is offered to present the main findings of this book in order to open to a comparative discussion with panel members who have observed the management of the pandemic in other states. The main issues that will be addressed are the following ones: absence of the notion of a state of emergency in the Belgian constitution; challenge for the distribution of powers within the federal state; reinforcement of the government; strong contestation of the legal basis for the measures adopted in order to contain the pandemic and of their proportionality.