Provinces of Belgium
Belgium is divided into three regions, two of which are subdivided into five provinces each. At the time of the creation of Belgium, only nine provinces existed; then, in 1995, Brabant was split into two provinces and the Brussels-Capital Region. The Brussels-Capital Region does not belong to any province, is not a province, and does not contain any.
|Flag||Arms||Province||Dutch name||French name||German name||Capital||Governor||Area (km²)||Population||Postal codes||HASC||FIPS||ISO 3166-2:BE|
|East Flanders||Oost-Vlaanderen||Flandre orientale||Ostflandern||Gent||Jan Briers||2982||1,445,831||9000-9999||BE.OV||BE08||VOV|
|Flemish Brabant||Vlaams-Brabant||Brabant flamand||Flämisch-Brabant||Leuven||Lodewijk De Witte||2106||1,086,446||1500-1999, 3000-3499||BE.VB||BE12||VBR|
|West Flanders||West-Vlaanderen||Flandre occidentale||Westflandern||Brugge||Carl Decaluwé||3151||1,164,967||8000-8999||BE.WV||BE09||VWV|
|Hainaut||Henegouwen||Hainaut||Hennegau||Mons||Claude Durieux||3800||1,317,284||7000-7999 (West),
shared with Luxembourg)
||Luxembourg||Luxemburg||Luxembourg||Luxemburg||Arlon||Bernard Caprasse||4443||271,352||6000-6999 (shared with Eastern Hainaut)||BE.LX||BE06||WLX|
|Walloon Brabant||Waals-Brabant||Brabant wallon||Wallonisch-Brabant||Wavre||Marie-José Laloy||1093||382,866||1300-1499||BE.BW||BE10||WBR|
The Low Countries, including what are now Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, as well as parts of modern Germany and France were divided into a number of rival and independent feudal states of varying size. These had their own identities and governments, though almost all were united under a single ruler as the Seventeen Provinces or Southern Netherlands. Prominent among these states in modern Belgium were the Duchy of Brabant, the County of Flanders, the Prince-Bishopric of Liège and the Duchy of Luxembourg; smaller ones were the County of Hainaut, the Duchy of Limburg and the County of Namur, though there were others small states as well. Each of the modern provinces of Belgium with the exception of Antwerp takes its name from one of these, though their modern borders are in most cases substantially different from the historical ones.
At the time of the independence of Belgium from the Netherlands in 1830, its territory simply consisted of the existing nine Belgian provinces. The first article of the Belgian Constitution said: "Belgium is divided into provinces. These provinces are Antwerp, Brabant, West Flanders, East Flanders, Hainaut, Liège, Limburg, Luxembourg, Namur, except for the relations of Luxembourg with the German Confederation."
During the second half of the 20th century, Belgium was transformed from a unitary state to a federal state with three Communities and three Regions. As part of the state reforms, the (bilingual) province of Brabant was split in 1995 into two (unilingual) provinces, Flemish Brabant and Walloon Brabant, and the (bilingual) Brussels-Capital Region. The Brussels-Capital Region does not belong to any province, is not a province, and does not contain any. The two provinces became part of the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region respectively. The remaining eight provinces became part of these regions as well, so the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region each contain five provinces.
The provincial government consists of three main branches: the Provincial Council, which is the elected body, the Deputation or Provincial College, which is the executive body, and the Governor, who is appointed by the regional government (i.e. the Flemish or Walloon Government).
The Provincial Councils (Dutch: Provincieraad; French: Conseil provincial) are the representative bodies of the population of the provinces. This is the equivalent of the States-Provincial in the Netherlands. The numbers of seats in the Provincial Councils are proportional to the population of the province; the numbers were reduced in both Flanders and Wallonia, starting 2013 (following the 2012 elections). They are directly elected each six years, at the same time of the municipal elections. Before 1994, the provincial elections instead coincided with the national elections. Until then, the provincial councils also appointed Provincial Senators to the Belgian Senate.
The executive branch was previously called the Permanent Deputation. In the Flemish Region it is now simply called the Deputation (Dutch: Deputatie) and it consists of the Governor and six Deputies elected by the Provincial Council from among its members. Following the next 2018 election, there will be one Deputy less, i.e. five Deputies. In the Walloon Region it is called the Provincial College (French: Collège provincial) which consists of the Governor and four to five Deputies (depending on the number of inhabitants of the province) elected by the Provincial Council from among its members.
In Flemish Brabant, there is also a Deputy Governor (Dutch: Adjunct van de gouverneur). The Deputy Governor is appointed by the Flemish Government on the unanimous advice of the Federal Council of Ministers and must have a considerable knowledge of both the Dutch and the French language. He is responsible for ensuring that the language legislation is observed in the municipalities in the Brussels Periphery.
Following the Fifth State Reform, the responsibility for the provincial institutions was devolved to the Regions. The Regions have the power to amend or replace the existing legislation on the provincial institutions, most notably the Provincial Law of 30 April 1836. In the Flemish Region, the Provincial Decree of 9 December 2005 applies. In the Walloon Region, the Code of Local Democracy and Decentralisation applies. The legal framework in these Regions is still very similar, but that could change in the future. Although the Regions are responsible for the provincial institutions, the Federal State has retained its responsibility over the provinces in certain cases. For instance, the Regions are responsible for the appointment of the Provincial Governors, but only after the unanimous advice of the Federal Council of Ministers. Legislation regarding the Governor and Vice-Governor of Brussels-Capital, and the Deputy Governor of Flemish Brabant, has also remained a federal competency.
Absence of any province in the Brussels-Capital Region
The Brussels-Capital Region does not belong to any province, nor does it contain any. The extraprovincial status of Brussels has existed since 1995, when the former province of Brabant, which had Brussels as its capital, was divided into the Dutch-speaking province of Flemish Brabant and the French-speaking province of Walloon Brabant.
Within this mainly French speaking region, nearly all former provincial competencies are assumed by its regional institutions and by the French Community Commission, the Flemish Community Commission or the Common Community Commission. However, the Arrondissement of Brussels-Capital has two commissioners of the Federal Government who are called 'Governor of the Brussels-Capital Region' and 'Vice-Governor'. The Governor exercises most of the few remaining powers elsewhere exercised by a provincial governor, particularly in the field of public order, as far as no (federal) law, (regional) decree, ordinance or decision states otherwise.
The Governor is appointed by the cabinet of the Brussels-Capital Region on the unanimous advice of the Federal Council of Ministers. The regional government also appoints the Vice-Governor, who must have a considerable knowledge of both the French and the Dutch language and who must ensure that the legislation regarding the use of languages is observed in Brussels.
Proposed additional province
Because the German-speaking Community is located entirely within the province of Liège, it has been proposed on multiple occasions to create an eleventh province, the Province of Eupen-Sankt Vith, which would comprise the nine municipalities of the German-speaking Community. Most of the functions carried out by provincial organs would then be exercised by the organs of the German-speaking Community.
- "Province of Belgium". statoids.com.
- "Oost-Vlaanderen: feiten & cijfers". Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen.
- The tricolour is official, but not in use. The many-striped flag is not official, but is in use."Luxembourg (Province of Belgium)". Flags of the World. March 21, 2009. Retrieved August 22, 2009.
- Proposal for an ordinance, stating the Governor's powers for the "arrondissement Brussels", the latter should be seen as the part of the arrondissement Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde that is not part of the Flemish Brabant province.
- "Factsheet on the Provinces" (PDF). The Belgian Chamber of Representatives. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- Ferdy Willems and Danny Pieters (21 March 2000). "Proposal of Law creating the Province of Eupen-Sankt Vith and a German-speaking electoral circle for the elections of the Chamber of Representatives and the Senate" (PDF) (in Dutch and French). The Belgian Chamber of Representatives. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
- Jan Loones (VU) (13 July 1995). "Proposal of Law granting all provincial competences to the organs of the German-speaking Community and on the representation of the German language area in the Legislative Chambers" (in Dutch). The Belgian Senate. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Provinces of Belgium.|
- The provinces, belgium.be
- Vereniging van de Vlaamse Provincies (Association of the Flemish Provinces)
- Association des Provinces wallonnes (Association of the Walloon Provinces)