Basic legislation (legislation organique)

Legislation which defines a sector of activity, its functioning, its institutions (e.g. hospital, CPAS (Public Centre for Social Action), etc.).

Commune with linguistic facilities

Commune in which the inhabitants can use a language other than the official language of the linguistic region to which the commune belongs for their contacts with the public authorities (e.g. commune located in the French language region in which it is authorised to use German).


Federated entity competent for matters relating to education, culture, health policies, social support and, except for in Brussels and in communes with linguistic facilities, language use. The community legislative act is the decree.

Co-operation agreement

Agreement negotiated and concluded by the Federal Authority and one or more federated entities, or by the federated entities between them, to increase their co-operation in a given matter or to clarify the role of each one. Compulsory co-operation agreements exist in matters where the law requires that one should be concluded, and optional co-operation agreements can be decided on the initiative of the parties concerned.


Basic set of laws which determine the rights and freedoms of the citizens, the different types of powers (legislative, executive, judicial) and the different levels of political power in Belgium.


Official name formally given to the legislative assemblies of the Regions and Communities, now called parliaments.


Legislative standard adopted by the Community or Regional parliamentary assemblies (except for the Region of Brussels-Capital).

 Executive power

Power which accomplishes the acts necessary for the application of laws and which manages the public services. It is attributed to the governments, sometimes called colleges.

 Federal Authority

Central power made up of the House of Representatives and the Senate, the Government and the King, who exercises his competencies over the entire territory of the Belgian State.

 Federal State

State in which a part of the legislative competencies are exercised by autonomous powers other than the central power.

 Federated entities

Authorities which make up a Federal State (e.g.: the cantons in Switzerland, the Länder in Germany, etc.). In Belgium, there are eight federated entities that have legislative power: the three Communities, the three Regions, the French Community Commission and the Joint Community Commission.

 French Community Commission (COCOF)

Institution competent for community matters concerning French-language institutions in the bilingual region of Brussels-Capital. The COCOF has the power to issue decrees (legislative power) for matters transferred to it by the French Community.

 Intercommunal companies

Municipal associations who work together to provide a service (distribution of water, energy, etc.) to their inhabitants.

 Judicial power

Power which ensures that laws are enforced and complied with in disputes. It is comprised of courts and tribunals.

 Legal and administrative control (tutelle)

Monitoring, counselling and protective functions exercised by one public institution over another public institution, or over certain of its actions, or over a public establishment.

 Legislative power

Power which drafts laws or other legal standards of the same level (decrees in Wallonia). This power is attributed to the Parliaments and is shared in Belgium by the Governments of the different levels of power and, at the federal level, by the King.

 Linguistic region

Linguistically homogenous territory resulting from an administrative division of the country, where the use of languages for contacts with public authorities, as regards administration, the law, education and labour relations in companies is regulated by decree or law. There are four linguistic regions in Belgium: three monolingual (French, Dutch, German) and one bilingual (French-Dutch). Each commune only belongs to one linguistic region.


Act of an executive power, or of a member of an executive power, intended to implement an act or a decree.

 Organising authority

Body which sets up social, cultural, health, and education institutions and takes initiatives or finances them. This is a different role from the one which consists of legislating in the same domain. An organising authority can be public or private (as, for example, in the education sector).

 Personal matters

Matters concerning either health policies or social support, and which have constituted one of the Communities’ major areas of competence since 1980.

Provincial Governor

Regional government representative for a province. This is also the highest official in the province acting as a political power. The governor is responsible for carrying out various tasks, especially as regards law and order.


Federated entity competent in matters relating to agriculture, foreign trade, economy, employment, energy, the environment, housing, transport, public works and town planning. The regional legislative act is the decree in the Walloon and Flemish Regions, and the ordinance in the Brussels-Capital Region.

 Special law

Federal law adopted by a special majority: simple majority in each of the two linguistic groups (on condition that the majority of their members are present) and majority of two thirds of the votes cast as a whole, both in the House and the Senate.

 Transferred matters

Responsibilities the exercise of which has been transferred by the French Community to the Walloon Region and to the French Community Commission and matters the exercise of which the Walloon Region has transferred to the German-speaking Community.