The Belgian Legislation
The Moniteur site is the access portal to Belgian law on-line. It gives direct access to the Moniteur belge – the Belgian Official Journal – and to a collection of consolidated legislation and an index. Federal legislation, and that of the communities (Flemish, French Wallonia, Brussels and German-speaking) and the regions (Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels-Capital) making up the federation, is accessible via this site. The Moniteur site is managed by the Federal Ministry of Justice [Service Public Fédéral de la Justice - SPF Justice].
Access to Belgian legislation is under three main headings:
Four secondary headings permit further searches:
Implementing Decree [Arrêté]
Instrument issued by an executive authority or a member of an executive authority for the implementation of a law, decree [décret] or regulation [ordonnance]. At the level of the Federal State, executive authority is vested in the King and the Federal Government. At federal level, therefore, there are Royal Implementing Decrees [arrêtés royaux (known as “arrêtés du Régent” between 1945 and 1950) Ministerial Implementing Decrees [arrêtés ministériels].
Executive authority is vested in the Governments of the communities and the regions at the level of the federal bodies, the permanent delegation [députation permanente] at provincial level, and the municipal executive at local-authority level. At the level of the language communities there are the Implementing Decrees of the French and German communities.
At the level of the regions there are the Implementing Decrees of the Brussels-Capital region and Wallonia. The bodies of the Flemish region and community have been merged since 1980. The Parliaments of the Flemish community and region therefore together form the “Vlaams Parlement” and a single Government exercises authority at community and regional levels. Since 1980, therefore, there have only been Implementing Decrees of the Flemish Government and no distinction has been made between the community or the region.
Text from the central administration (of the various ministries) explaining the procedures for the application of legislative and regulatory texts.
Collection of laws and regulations forming the basis of civil law in Belgium: laws on the status and capacity of persons, the family, property and inheritance, contracts and obligations.
Code of Criminal Procedure
The code lays down the competencies of the law-enforcement authorities, the police courts and criminal courts (particularly as regards immediate appearance), the functions and powers of the examining magistrate (particularly as regards hearing) and the State Public Prosecutors [procureurs du Roi]. A part of the Code is devoted to the procedures applicable in Assize Courts.
This code defines the concepts of trader, business transaction, “livres de commerce” (accounting documents) and trade commitment, and contains rules on the transfer of marriage contracts [conventions matrimoniales] if one of the spouses is a trader.
Belgian Nationality Code
This Code contains a whole series of rules concerning the assignment (through birth, for example), acquisition (through naturalisation, for example), loss (through acquisition of another nationality, for example) and recovery of Belgian nationality.
Treatment of VAT
This Code contains the rules governing value added tax (VAT) – a consumption tax (or indirect tax) on all supplies of goods and services covered by the VAT Code at every stage in production and consumption.
Code of military criminal procedure
This Code contains all the rules governing procedures for establishing, investigating, prosecuting and trying offences committed by any member of military personnel. The protective function of military criminal law is restricted to the army and the Border Guard and their installations, and to national defence. The Military Criminal Code does not cover typically civil offences. Registration duty, mortgage duty and court duties. This Code governs:
Succession Rights Code
This Code regulates the transfer of the property of deceased persons. Opening succession proceedings may have tax consequences, in the form of succession or transfer duties, laid down in the Succession Duties Code. The calculation of succession duties differs depending on whether the deceased person's last effective domicile or the location of the inheritance is in one or other of the three regions of Belgium (Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels-Capital).
Stamp Duties Code
The issue of certain documents (planning permission, for example) is subject to the payment of stamp duty, which constitutes a tax. The Stamp Duties Code lays down the documents that are exempt of stamp duty.
Companies Code The Companies Code is a set of texts on companies: establishment, different legal forms (cooperative society, public limited company, private limited company, etc.), accounting law, criminal liability, restructuring, dissolution etc.
Walloon Housing Code
In Belgium, competency for housing is vested in the different regions (Wallonia, Flanders and Brussels-Capital). The Walloon Housing Code contains in a single text all the existing provisions on housing in Wallonia (health, safety, equipment, housing subsidies etc.)
The Electoral Code lays down the criteria for entitlement to vote or stand in elections, the voting procedure (particularly for Belgians living abroad) and any penalties for failing to fulfil the obligation to vote.
This Code comprises all the texts relating to wood and woodland: exploitation, access and transport, right of use, police and conservation, procedure regarding offences committed in woodland covered by the forest regime etc.
This Code comprises the main international conventions on civil procedure and provisions of procedural law set out in specific texts (other codes, laws, judgments). The Judicial Code deals in particular with:
This is a collection of laws and regulations listing penalties for various offences.
Military Penal Code
This Code basically applies to all military personnel on duty or in connection with their off-duty tasks.
The provisions of the Rural Code rural apply in both town and country. The Code is divided into two parts:
Constitution of 1831
The first Belgian Constitution was drawn up in 1831, following independence in 1830. It lays down the general principles of living in society and the primacy of laws and decrees in the hierarchy of legislative acts.This initial version of the Constitution has been amended on numerous occasions: the first two revisions (1893 and 1920) were to reform the electoral system and the next four (1970, 1980, 1988 and 1993) were to transform the country from a unitary State to a federal State. In February 1994, a consolidated version of the text of the Constitution incorporating all these changes entered into force.
Constitution of February 1994
This is the version of the Belgian Constitution currently in force. It comprises the text of the first Belgian Constitution of 1831 and incorporates the six major changes made subsequently (reform of the electoral system and form of State). This basic law sets out the rights and freedoms of citizens, the different types of power (legislative, executive, judicial) and the different levels of political authority (from the federal to the local).
Collective labour agreement
A collective labour agreement is an agreement concluded between a number of workers’ organisations and one or more employers’ organisations or one or more employers. The agreement lays down the nature of individual and collective relations between employers and workers within companies or in a branch of activity and the rights and obligations of the contracting parties.
This is a legislative instrument adopted by the parliamentary assemblies (also known as “Councils”) of the communities and regions. They comprise the decrees adopted by the Flemish, French (known as the “French community of Wallonia and Brussels”) and German communities on the one hand, and the decrees adopted by the regions of Wallonia and Flanders on the other. In the Brussels-Capital region, a decree is known as an “ordonnance”.
A “directive” is a legal instrument used by the institutions of the European Community to perform their functions under the EC Treaty. Directives are binding on Member States as to the results to be achieved; they need to be transposed into the national legal framework, and leave room for manoeuvre as regards the form and means of implementation.
Laws lay down general and permanent rules, and are adopted by parliamentary vote.
Law on remand pending trial
Law of 20 July 1990 setting out rules on the imprisonment, during judicial investigation, of a person charged with a criminal offence, or of an accused person in connection with immediate appearance.
Legislative instrument adopted by the Council of the Brussels-Capital region – also known as the Brussels Parliament.
Name given to some decisions by the Commissions for the language communities, i.e. Commission for the French Community (COCOF), the Joint Commission for the Communities (COCOM) and the Commission for the Flemish Community (VGC). These three Commissions enable each of the two communities (French and Flemish) to conduct community policies that are restricted to the territory of the Brussels-Capital region).
Name given to decisions by the Commission for the French Community (COCOF) – the institution of the French-speaking community in Brussels. This Commission is competent, in connection with community matters, for the French-speaking institutions in the bilingual Brussels-Capital region. The COCOF may issue regulations on matters for which it has been given responsibility by the French community.
A “regulation” is a legal instrument used by the institutions of the European Community to perform their functions under the EC Treaty. A Regulation is binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States.
Agreement concluded between States or international organisations with the intention of producing legal effects in their mutual relations. Treaties may be bilateral, multilateral or European (signed by the members of the European Union).
The ECSC Treaty, signed in Paris in 1951, united France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries in a Community with the aim of organising freedom of movement for coal and steel, and free access to the sources of production. A joint High Authority also monitored the market, compliance with competition rules and price transparency. The ECSC Treaty expired on 23 July 2002.
The EEC Treaty, signed in Paris in 1957, united France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries in a Community with the aim of integration through trade with a view to economic expansion. After the signing of the Maastricht Treaty, the EEC became the European Community, reflecting the wish of the Member States to extend the Communities powers to non-economic areas.
This Treaty was signed in Rome in March 1957 and entered into force on 1 January 1958. Initially created to coordinate the Member States’ research programmes for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, the Euratom Treaty today helps to pool knowledge, infrastructure and the funding of nuclear energy. It ensures the security of nuclear energy supply under a centralised monitoring system