How will Belgium organize itself?

Belgium is a federal state comprising communities and regions.

Who has what powers?

The various governments in Belgium exercise their own fields of competence:

  • Federal government: justice, finance, defense, ...
  • Communities: culture, education, languages, ...
  • Regions: regional economic policy, the environment, land use, ...

Belgium has international obligations for which the federal state is responsible but the communities and regions may exercise their own powers at international level. For example, the communities and regions are involved when the European Union is in the throes of dealing with a directive or regulation that has some bearing on one of their fields of competence.

How are the various stakeholders organized?

As there are very many key Belgian players in the European arena, they can rely on various mechanisms for ensuring their full cooperation.

  • The federal government and the consultation committee
    These higher bodies are responsible for the requisite political arbitration.
  • Interministerial Conference for Foreign Policy
    This is the forum where ministers in charge of external relations debate the Belgian positions that have to be upheld during the European Council. Federal ministers, regional ministers and community ministers are involved in this process.
  • Cooperation agreement on Belgium's representation in the European Union Council
    This cooperation agreement covers domestic arrangements for coordinating the Belgian European policy.
  • Directorate-General for European Affairs and Coordination (DGE)
    This administrative structure is in charge of the coordination process that has to be undertaken in order to prepare the positions Belgium puts forward at European level. The DGE liaises closely with the Belgium Permanent Representation to the EU.

Administrations and cabinets from all policy fields are involved in preparing Belgium's European policy. The preparations are made in the light of the DGE's almost daily coordination meetings.

The minister representing Belgium in the EU Council is required to uphold the country's interests, irrespective of the official's level of governance: federal, regional or community. The minister's position is first of all coordinated by the DGE on the basis of a consensus between all the relevant authorities.

To find out more:

FPS for Foreign Affairs
Belgian Government portal
European Union
European Union Council
Authorities of Flanders
Walloon Region
French-speaking Community
Site concerning the international relations of the French-speaking Community in Wallonia and Brussels, the Walloon Region and the French-speaking Community Commission of the Brussels-Capital Region
Brussels-Capital Region
German-speaking Community
Flanders fits you
Flanders – international department