The communes

In this text, you will find more information about the powers and institutions of the communes.

The level of administration that is closest to the individual is the local authority or commune.

When the Belgian State was created in 1831, there were 2739 communes. Today there are 581.

The communes already existed before the Belgian State and were recognised by the 1831 Constitution. Their organisation is laid down in the law of 1836. In 1988 the new communal act was enacted. From the time they were set up, reference was made to "communal autonomy". That does not mean that the local politicians can do anything they like, but they do have extensive autonomy in the context of the powers that they exercise, under the supervision of higher authorities.

Each region exercises its supervision over the communes in its territory. The supervision over the communes by other authorities, i.e. the Communities and the Federal State, is limited to the fields for which the Communities and the Federal State hold powers.

In Belgium there are 581 communes. The 300 Flemish cities and communes are spread over five provinces, i.e. Antwerp (Antwerpen), East Flanders (Oost-Vlaanderen), Flemish Brabant (Vlaams-Brabant), Limburg and West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen). The 262 Walloon cities and communes are spread over five provinces, i.e. Hainaut, Liège, Luxembourg, Namur and Walloon Brabant (Brabant wallon). The Brussels-Capital Region covers nineteen communes.