> The communes

Wallonia has 262 communes, 9 of which are located in the German linguistic region.

  competencies - political institutions - administration

Competencies

The communes exercise a dual functionality. On the one hand, they are subordinate local authorities, responsible for executing certain decisions taken by other authorities. On the other, they are autonomous political bodies with their own decision-making power : they are free to take initiatives providing the matter is not excluded from their competencies by the Constitution, the law or decree.

They therefore exercise a series of compulsory responsibilities which are identical for each Walloon commune, and optional responsibilities, which are particular to each municipality.

The municipal compulsory responsibilities include the organisation and co-financing of the CPAS (Public Centre for Social Action), the organisation of municipal primary education, keeping civil status registers, supervising of the unemployed, covering deficits for the construction and maintenance of churches (and assimilated establishments for Jewish, Protestant and Anglican religions), establishing electoral rolls, law and order, maintenance of municipal roads.

All other municipal activities fall under optional responsibilities, especially as regards education other than at primary level, housing, tourism, promotion of economic activity, cultural activities, etc.

Political institutions

Each commune has an assembly of elected members, the Municipal Council, and an executive, the College of Mayor and Aldermen.
The Municipal Council is made up of a variable number of directly elected members depending on the number of inhabitants in the commune. The municipal elections take place every six years on the second Sunday in October.

The Commune is governed by the College of Mayor and Aldermen. Note that the College is not accountable to the Municipal Council.
The mayor is nominated by the Walloon Government. The mayor presides over the Municipal Council, with voting rights (if he/she is chosen among the municipal councillors, which is frequently the case), as well as the college. Besides attributions similar to those of an alderman, he/she possesses specific competencies, especially as regards security and law and order.

The communes are governed by the New Municipalities Law. Since 1 January 2002, the municipal law has become a Regional competence in nearly all its aspects. The Walloon Region can thus modify the rules as regards the functioning and organisation of the communes.

The communes are submitted to the legislative and administrative control (tutelle) of the Walloon Region. It has been agreed that staring 2005, the communes from the German linguistic region would be submitted instead to the control of the German-speaking Community.

Administration

Each commune has a municipal administration. In general, this administration is organised into departments which reflect the different responsibilities of the commune attributed to the various aldermen.