Crown Council of Belgium
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The Crown Council of Belgium is composed of the King of the Belgians, the Ministers and the Ministers of State (mostly former ministers and other major politicians). The constitutional Monarch chairs the Crown Council, which has no legal competence but simply advice the crown when consulted on extraordinary matters.
During a session of the Crown Council, the Ministers of State can do nothing but advise the King, as the authority to make political decisions is vested in the King and the Federal Government, in accordance with the Belgian Constitution.
To date, the Crown Council has met on only five occasions:
- July 16, 1870: The start of the ominous Franco-Prussian War (Leopold II of Belgium)
- August 2 and 3, 1914: The German ultimatum to Belgium at the beginning of World War I (Albert I of Belgium)
- May 2, 1919: The Treaty of Versailles (Albert I of Belgium)
- March 23, 1950: The Royal Question (leading Leopold III of Belgium's abdication)
- February 18, 1960: The independence of Belgian Congo (Baudouin I of Belgium)
Nowadays, the Crown Council is seen as an old-fashioned or even outdated political organ. The title of Minister of State is given as an honorary title, with no view to any possible Crown Council meeting. None of the living Ministers of State have ever participated in a Crown Council session. During the 2007–08 Belgian government formation though, King Albert II formally asked the help of several Ministers of State with experience in solving political crises. The King consulted Ministers of State Wilfried Martens, Jean-Luc Dehaene, Guy Verhofstadt, Philippe Moureaux, Willy Claes, Gérard Deprez, Jos Geysels, Philippe Busquin, Charles-Ferdinand Nothomb, José Daras, Raymond Langendries, Herman De Croo, Louis Michel, Herman Van Rompuy and Armand De Decker. Some political analysts saw this as comparable to the Crown Council. Commonly, Ministers of State are appointed to formal offices is the process of forming a government or to solve a cabinet crisis.
- André Molitor, La Fonction Royale en Belgique, CRISP, 1979