> The Federal Authority

territory - competencies - political institutions - administration


The Federal Authority, also called Federal State or Central State, exercises its powers over the country’s entire territory, therefore also in Wallonia.


In the current legislative situation, the Federal Authority exercises two types of competencies:
-  competencies that have not been attributed to the Regions or Communities;
-    competencies that have been specially attributed to it by the special law in the form of exceptions within community and regional matters.

The first type of competencies mainly includes : justice, social security,defence and law and order, foreign policy, communications, the rules governing civil status and nationality, access to the territory, residence and settling in foreigners, recognition of religions and secular organisations.

The second type of competencies includes among others : the use of languages in the bilingual region of Brussels-Capital and in the communes with a particular language status (among these, the communes in the German linguistic region), the integration income and the guaranteed income for elderly people (Grapa), the organic legislation for hospitals and other essential rules concerning health standards and infrastructures, the national and international research networks and the federal scientific establishments, the federal cultural establishments, safety in the food chain, nuclear energy, federal autonomous public enterprises (SNCB, BIAC, Belgacom, etc.).

Political institutions

The Federal Authority is composed of the Federal Parliament, the Federal Government and the King.

The Parliament includes the House of Representatives and the Senate. The House is made up of 150 directly elected members split into two linguistic groups: French and Dutch. The Senate is made up of 71 senators split into two linguistic groups, French and Dutch, with the exception of the senator designated by the German-speaking Community, who does not belong to any language group. The 71 senators are designated as follows: 40 directly elected senators, 21 senators designated by the Communities and 10 co-opted.

The Parliament exercises two main functions:
-   as the instrument of legislative power, the Parliament discusses and passes the laws and special laws which are then sanctioned and promulgated by the King; it can also take the initiative to draw them up;
-   as the control body of the executive authority, the Parliament supervises the Government. This supervision is exercised via the vote on budgets and accounts, the vote on motions of confidence or no confidence, parliamentary questions, etc.

Furthermore, as a constituent organ, the Parliament is also responsible for revising the Constitution.

The Federal Government is made up of an equal number of French-speaking and Dutch-speaking ministers, with the Prime Minister possibly not included in the equation, and the secretaries of State. The ministers and secretaries of State are nominated and removed from office by the King.

The Federal Government participates in legislative power and, like the Parliament, it can take the initiative of drawing up laws. As an executive power, it adopts the orders necessary to implement the laws.

The Federal Government is accountable to the House of Representatives.

The Parliament and the Government are based in Brussels, the country’s capital.


The federal public departments (SPF) are responsible for the administration of the Federal Authority. There are currently 17 departments.

Federal Authority's website: http://www.belgium.be