Coordination within Belgium

The Cooperation Agreement

The ‘foro interno, foro externo’ principle stipulates that the Belgian federated entities are responsible for the international aspects of their competences.  This also applies to EU policy.  Since the Maastricht Treaty (1992), it is possible that Ministers from federated entities represent their Member State in the Council of Ministers.

The general framework for the Belgian and Flemish EU policy has been established in a cooperation agreement between the federal government and the regions and communities in 1994.  This cooperation agreement also contains arrangements regarding the drafting of the position that the representative will take on behalf of Belgium.

Such a cooperation agreement involving all governments on an equal footing in decisions and representation according to the internal division of powers, is completely unique in Europe. However, the reform of the Belgian state which further shifts the balance towards the federated entities and changes to the European system by the Treaty of Lisbon, require adjustments to this agreement.

The Cooperation Agreement

Coordination within Belgium

The Cooperation Agreement stipulates that for the coordination of European policy, a consultation should take place between the federal and regional governments on the Belgian position to be taken at the Council meeting. It is the Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, and more specifically the Directorate-General for European Affairs and Coordination (DGE), which is responsible for observing the organization of this consultation and chairing these meetings. Representatives of the federal government and the federated entities participate in these so-called DGE meetings. 

Directorate-General European Affairs and Coordination (Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs)