The federal state of Belgium is divided into 10 provinces. The territory of Brussels-Capital is considered to be "free from provinces", i.e. provincial powers have been transferred to other bodies (Parliament of the Brussels-Capital Region, Community Commissions, etc.). The German-speaking Community is part of the Province of Liège.
Since the creation of communities and regions, the provinces have lost their importance as administrative structures. They can take initiatives in all matters that are of interest to the provinces and do not fall under the competence of other authorities.
These are the provinces in Wallonia:
Liège, Namur, Luxembourg, Hainaut and Walloon Brabant
These are the provinces in Flanders:
Flemish Brabant, West Flanders, East Flanders, Antwerp and Limburg.
The provincial Council
- is the provinces’ parliamentary assembly,
- is elected every six years,
- has between 47 and 84 members, depending on the population of the province,
- decides on all matters of relevance to the province: regulations for internal administration, subsidy regulations, police regulations, provincial budget, collection of provincial taxes, ...
The provincial College
- is the executive organ of the province and implements the decisions of the provincial Council,
- counts six members elected from among the members of the provincial Council,
- decides on all tasks of the daily provincial administration,
- settles conflicts regarding municipal elections and complaints against municipal and provincial taxes,
- prepares expert opinions for higher levels of administration.
The provincial governor
- is appointed by the regional government;
- on the one hand, performs a provincial function: as a non-voting member, he chairs the Standing Committee and attends the meetings of the provincial Council;
- on the other hand, as civil servant of the federal government, is responsible for implementing federal, community and regional legislation;
- is responsible for the maintenance of public order and the security of people and property within the province.
There are 589 municipalities in Belgium. They are the smallest subdivision of the country.
Traditionally, the municipalities have always had a great deal of autonomy. During the French period (1794-1815) there were centralisation efforts towards the local authorities, but these were not very successful.
The municipalities are responsible, amongst other things, for
- the maintenance of public order,
- the local police,
- the civil and demographic registers,
- the issue of building permits,
- the maintenance of the municipal road network,
- initiatives in the fields of education, culture, sport, etc.
The local Council
- is the municipality’s parliamentary assembly,
- is elected every six years. Belgians and EU citizens are eligible to vote,
- comprises between 7 and 55 members, depending on the population,
- regulates all matters regarding the municipality (budget, municipal taxes, municipal and police ordinances...).
The municipality College
- is the executive body of the municipality,
- is run by the mayor,
- is responsible for the daily administration of the community,
- is responsible for the implementation of the decisions of the local Council.
- The candidate of the strongest majority list, who has received the most votes automatically becomes mayor.
- He is at the head of the municipality. He chairs the municipality College and the local Council.
- He is also in charge of the implementation of federal, community and regional legal norms; he heads the local police and is responsible for maintaining public order.