Belgium Federal state


Structures and competences

Local level :
589 municipalities

The municipal council (conseil communal in French and gemeenteraad in Dutch) is elected by direct universal suffrage for a six-year term (next local elections in 2018). It is the municipality’s legislative body and it decides on local policy.

The college of mayor and alderman (collège des bourgmestre et échevins/ college van burgemeester en schepenen) is composed of the mayor, his/her aldermen and the president of the public centre for social welfare*. The mayor and aldermen are elected by and from within the municipal council and also sit in the council. The college is the municipality’s executive body. It implements the decisions taken by the municipal council and is in charge of the day-to-day management of the municipality.

The mayor (bourgmestre/burgemeester) chairs the college of mayor and aldermen. He or she can be nominated by the municipal council to chair it. In Flanders and in Brussels, he/she is appointed by the regional government after a nomination by the municipal council for a six-year mandate. In Wallonia, the mayor is directly elected by the population (by «earmarking»: the best score on the list with the largest municipal majority), after which he/ she is also appointed by the regional government. The mayor is in charge of the municipal administration and heads the municipal police.

*Each municipality has a public centre for social welfare (CPAS in French/ OCMW in Dutch), which has an autonomous status and which provides social integration income and the right to social assistance, as well as being in charge of social services (elderly services and care, etc.).


  • Public order
  • Registry office
  • Spatial and urban planning
  • Housing
  • Water and sanitation
  • Environment
  • Waste management
  • Road management and mobility
  • Culture, sports and youth
  • Social policy
  • Local economy
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Local finance and taxation

Intermediate level :
10 provinces*

The provincial council (conseil provincial/ provincieraad) is the deliberative body of the province. It is composed of councillors elected by direct universal suffrage for a six-year term, via the proportional representation system (next provincial elections in 2018).

The provincial authority (deputation provinciale in French, except in Wallonia where it is called college provincial, and deputatie in Dutch) is the province’s governmental body and holds legislative, executive and judicial powers. It is also responsible for managing the province’s daily administration.

The governor of the province (gouverneur de la province/ provinciegouverneur) is the federal government’s commissioner (public order, civil security, emergency planning) as well as the regional and community commissioner. He/she is a civil servant nominated by the regional government. The governor participates in provincial authority and council sessions during which he/she has the right to speak.

*Brussels-Capital is not a province, but a region. It does however have special competences normally allocated to provinces.


  • Cultural infrastructures
  • Social infrastructures and policies
  • Environment
  • Economy
  • Transport
  • Housing

Regional level :
3 regions (Brussels-Capital, Flanders et Wallonia)

There is no hierarchy between the federal, regional and community governments: they each have their own specific competences allocated to them by the Belgian Constitution. The regions’ competences are linked to the land (housing, agriculture, spatial planning, etc.), the communities’ competencies are more linked to the individual (education, health, culture, etc.), and the competences of the federal government are those not explicitly attributed to regions or communities by the Constitution.

The regional parliament (Parlement régional or Parlement wallon et Parlement bruxellois/Vlaams Parlement) is the region’s legislative body. Its members are elected by direct universal suffrage for five years (next regional elections in 2019). The parliament holds legislative powers, votes on the regional budget and monitors the regional government’s actions.

The regional government (Gouvernement régional or Gouvernement wallon / bruxellois / Vlaamse regering) is the executive body and is composed of regional ministers elected by the regional parliament for a five-year mandate. It is in charge of the implementation and sanctioning of orders or laws voted by the regional parliament.The regional government also has legislative power (right of initiative).

The minister-president (Ministre Président du Gouvernement régional or Ministre-Président du Gouvernement wallon/bruxellois/Minister-president van de Vlaamse regering) is appointed among members of the regional government for a period of five years. He/she is responsible for the coordination of policies led by the regional government, over which he/ she presides.


  • Spatial and urban planning
  • Housing
  • Agriculture
  • Employment
  • Environment
  • International relations
  • External trade
  • Scientific research
  • Energy
  • Transport
  • Local governements

Community level :
3 communities (Flemish-, French- ans German-speaking)

The community parliament (Parlement de la Communauté française and Parlament der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft/Vlaams Parlement) is the legislative body of the community. It is composed of members elected by universal suffrage for five years (next elections in 2019). The community parliament has legislative powers, monitors the government of the community and votes the budget.

The government of the community (Gouvernement de la Communauté française/Regierung der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft /Vlaamse regering) is the executive body composed of ministers appointed by the parliament for five years. It also has legislative powers (right of initiative).

The minister-president (MinistrePrésident de la Communauté française/ Ministerpräsident der Regierung der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaf/ Minister-president van de Vlaamse regering) is appointed for a five year term among members of the government of the community over which he/she presides. He/she is responsible for the coordination of community policies led by the government of the community.

The Flemish community and the Flanders region have merged. Flanders has thus one parliament (Vlaams parlement) and one government (Vlaamse regering), presided over by the minister president, all of which are competent for both community and regional matters.

For Brussels Region, the community competences are exercised by, on the one hand, the French and Flemish communities and, on the other hand, by the three community commissions (GGC/COCOM, COCOF and VGC). The common community commission (GCC/COCOM) regulates and manages matters common to the two communities in the Brussels-Capital region and has recently been assigned a large number of competences for matters such as health and assistance to citizens, following the sixth State reform.

Depending on the community, it’s the COCOF (Commission communautaire francophone for the French speaking community) and the VGC (Vlaamse gemeenschapscommissie for the Dutch speaking community) which are competent for the community level. COCOF and VGC can form and fund institutions or take initiatives within the scope of community responsibilities.


  • Education
  • Culture
  • Social affairs
  • Tourism
  • Sports
  • International relations
  • Health
  • Assistance to citizens