Representation in the Council of the EU

A special system has been developed in the Cooperation Agreement for the representation of Belgium. The 22 Council configurations that existed in 1994 (at the time the agreement was drafted), are divided into six categories. A specific regime has been established for each of those categories.

  • In categories I and II, there is a predominance of federal powers. Category I has an exclusive federal representation and Category II has a federal representation with an assessor of the federated entities.

  • In the categories III and IV, there is a predominance of powers by the federated entities. Category III has a representation on regional or community level with federal assessor and category IV sees an exclusive representation on regional or community level.

  • In the category V Belgium is always represented by Flanders and in category VI, the federal minister is always assisted by the ministers of the Walloon or Flemish Region. A specific rotation system applies for the latter category.

Category I: Exclusive federal representation

  • General Affairs;

  • Foreign Affairs;

  • Economic and Financial Affairs (ECOFIN);

  • Justice and Home Affairs (JHA);

  • Budget;

  • Telecom;

  • Civil Protection;

  • Consumer protection

Category II: Federal representation with assessor of the federated entities

  • Transport;

  • Energy;

  • Internal Market;

  • Employment and Social Affairs;

  • Health

Category III: Representation by the federated entities with federal assessor

  • Industry;

  • Research;

  • Environment.

Category IV: Exclusive representation by the federated entities

  • Culture and Audiovisual Affairs;

  • Education;

  • Youth;

  • Sports;

  • Tourism;

  • Spatial planning;

  • Housing;

  • Regional policy

Category V: Exclusive representation of a single region or a single community

  • Fishing: always by the Flemish minister.

Category VI: Federal representation assisted by the federated entities, where the rotation system does not apply

  • Agriculture

A federal, regional or community minister who sits in a given Council configuration, always represents Belgium and expresses the agreed Belgian position. The assessor may assist the residing minister for matters within the competence of his government level. The assessor may also speak in consultation with the minister residing.

Since 1994, the agreement has been slightly modified. 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, however, require adjustments to this agreement.

EU Council configurations