One Federal State, three Regions

Since 1993, Belgium has constitutionally been a Federal State composed of three Regions and three Communities. This federal mechanism has repercussions on environmental competences, as these are shared between the Federal authority and the three Regions. The three Regions are federated, separate entities which are not subordinated to the Federal authority or the other Regions. They exercise their own authority in accordance with their territorial base which defines their scope of geographic action.

More information: the Belgian federal structure

Environmental authority

The distribution of competences, notably in environmental matters, is governed by the law of 08/08/1980 on institutional reforms and its subsequent modifications.
The table below summarises this distribution:


  • Brussels-Capital
  • Flämische Region
  • Walloon Region

Federal State

The main part of the environmental policy is assigned to them.
This notably refers to policy relating to the following areas:

  • water,
  • air,
  • waste,
  • nature conservation,
  • rational use of energy,
  • town and country planning,

Im Bereich Zugang zu Gerichten sind die Regionen außerdem bei außergerichtlichen Verwaltungsbeschwerden zuständig.

The Federal Authority exercises its power in the following domains:

  • import, export and transit of protected non-indigenous species,
  • protection of the North Sea,
  • product standards (i.e. the environmental standardisation of products before they are placed on the market),
  • nuclear energy.

Furthermore, the Belgian Federal Authority remains the relevant body as regards the jurisdictional aspect of the 'access to justice' part. The Regions only have authority for non-jurisdictional administrative appeals.