Communities and Regions

As a federated entity, Flanders has many policies which it can make autonomously. These are related to both regional and community matters.

  • The Flemish Region extends over the territory of the five Flemish provinces: Antwerp, Limburg, East Flanders, Flemish Brabant and West Flanders.
  • The Flemish Community includes all inhabitants of Flanders and the Flemish inhabitants of the bilingual Brussels-Capital Region.

Duties of the Flemish Region

As a Region, Flanders is responsible for:

  • Spatial planning: spatial plans, building permits, urban renewal, monuments and landscapes
  • Housing and development: social housing, financial support for housing, rent, housing tax, etc.
  • Environment: protection of the environment, waste policy, electric vehicles and charging points, etc.
  • Land use and nature conservation: land consolidation, parks, forests, hunting, fishing, etc.
  • Water policy: drinking water, wastewater treatment, sewerage, etc.
  • Agriculture and fisheries: support to agricultural and horticultural businesses, sustainable agriculture, food promotion, land tenancy law, agricultural disaster fund, etc.
  • Economy: business support and advice, commercial establishment and leasing, price policy, foreign trade, etc.
  • Tourism policy
  • Animal welfare
  • Energy policy: electricity and natural gas distribution, promotion of sustainable energy use, etc.
  • Municipalities, provinces and inter-municipalities: administrative supervision of operations, finances and personnel, urban policy, local and provincial elections, etc.
  • Employment: job placement, employment programmes, activation policies, economic migration, service cheques, paid educational leave, etc.
  • Public works and transport: roads, waterways, seaports, regional airports, regional transport, driver training and exams (except for driving licences), technical inspection, shipping control, etc.
  • Scientific research on own duties
  • International cooperation on regional competences, development cooperation and foreign trade

Duties of the Flemish Community

As a Community, Flanders is responsible for:

  • Culture: language use, arts, cultural heritage, museums, libraries, media and sport
  • Education: almost all aspects of educational policy except for the residual federal educational responsibilities such as compulsory education
  • Health care: accreditation of health care providers and care institutions, quality control of care institutions (primary care, hospitals, preventive health care, home care, care for the elderly, mental health care, rehabilitation and addiction), assistance to the elderly and prevention
  • Assistance to persons: youth protection, youth policy, family policy and childcare, family allowances (e.g. child benefit, birth premium and adoption premium), policy for the elderly and the disabled, the equal opportunities policy and the integration of migrants and administrative supervision of the CPASs
  • Justice: prosecution policy, juvenile sanction law, first line legal assistance and justice houses
  • International cooperation concerning community responsibilities and development cooperation

State reform and transfer of duties

Throughout history, the Belgian state has been reformed several times. Through these state reforms, Belgium changed from a unitary to a federal state and the regions and communities got more powers.

The most recent state reform is the sixth state reform in which many powers were transferred from the federal to the regional level.

The powers were officially transferred on July 1, 2014, but their practical implementation is being phased in. The current federal government has appointed two ministers to prepare the next institutional reform.