Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy in which the king is the head of state and the prime minister is the head of government in a multi-party system. Decision-making powers are not centralised, but divided between 3 levels of government: the federal government, 3 language-based communities (Flemish, French and German-speaking) and 3 regions (Flanders, Brussels Capital and Wallonia). Legally they all are equal, but have powers and responsibilities for different fields. Brussels is, together with Luxembourg City and Strasbourg, one of the three official seats of the European institutions.
Trade and economy
The most important sectors of Belgium’s economy in 2018 were public administration, defence, education, human health and social work activities (22.1%), wholesale and retail trade, transport, accommodation and food services (19.4%) and industry (16.7%).
Intra-EU trade accounts for 73% of Belgium’s exports (Germany 18%, France 14% and the Netherlands 12%), while outside the EU 5% go to the United States and 2% to both India and China.
In terms of imports, 64% come from EU Member States (the Netherlands 18%, Germany 13% and France 9%), while outside the EU 7% come from the United States and 4% from China.
Belgium in the EU
Council of the European Union
In the Council of the EU, national ministers meet regularly to adopt EU laws and coordinate policies. Council meetings are regularly attended by representatives from the Belgian government, depending on the policy area being addressed.
Presidency of the Council of the EU
The Council of the EU doesn't have a permanent, single-person president (like, e.g., the Commission or Parliament). Instead, its work is led by the country holding the Council presidency, which rotates every 6 months.
During these 6 months, ministers from that country's government chair and help determine the agenda of Council meetings in each policy area, and facilitate dialogue with the other EU institutions.
Dates of Belgian presidencies:
Jan-Jun 1958 | Jan-Jun 1961 | Jan-Jun 1964 | Jan-Jun 1967 | Jan-Jun 1970 | Jan-Jun 1973 | Jul-Dec 1977 | Jan-Jun 1982 | Jan-Jun 1987 | Jul-Dec 1993 | Jul-Dec 2001 | Jul-Dec 2010
The Commission is represented in each EU country by a local office, called a "representation".
European Economic and Social Committee
Belgium has 12 representatives on the European Economic and Social Committee. This advisory body – representing employers, workers and other interest groups – is consulted on proposed laws, to get a better idea of the possible changes to work and social situations in member countries.
European Committee of the Regions
Belgium has 12 representatives on the European Committee of the Regions, the EU's assembly of regional and local representatives. This advisory body is consulted on proposed laws, to ensure these laws take account of the perspective from each region of the EU.
Permanent representation to the EU
Belgium also communicates with the EU institutions through its permanent representatives based in Brussels. As Belgium’s “embassy to the EU”, its main task is to ensure that the country's interests and policies are pursued as effectively as possible in the EU.
Budgets and Funding
How much does Belgium pay and receive?
How much each EU country pays into the EU budget is calculated fairly, according to means. The larger your country's economy, the more it pays – and vice versa.
The EU budget doesn't aim to redistribute wealth, but rather focuses on the needs of Europeans as a whole.
2018 figures for Belgium
- Total EU spend in Belgium – € 8.514 billion
(equivalent to 1.86% of the Belgian economy)
- Total contribution to EU budget – € 3.840 billion
(equivalent to 0.84% of the Belgian economy)
More figures on the EU budget, revenue and spending:
EU-funded projects in Belgium
The money paid into the EU budget by Belgium helps fund programmes and projects in all EU countries - like building roads, subsidising researchers and protecting the environment.
Find out more about how Belgium benefits from EU funding.