Institutions

© SPW-SG/J-L Carpentier

Wallonia or the Walloon Region is a federated region with legislative powers; it has its own bodies and powers within the Belgian Federal State.

Created in the constitution in 1970, its institutions were actually implemented in 1980. Since then, the State Reforms of 1988, 1993, 2001 and 2014 have constantly increased its autonomy and extended the scope of its powers.

Today, Wallonia's powers mainly concern the following issues:
•    the economy;
•    employment policy;
•    education;
•    research;
•    foreign trade;
•    housing;
•    social and health action;
•    assistance for people, particularly those with disabilities;
•    family policy and family allowances;
•    land-use planning;
•    public works;
•    transport and mobility policy;
•    energy policy;
•    local authorities;
•    sporting infrastructures;
•    tourism;
•    the environment and water policy;
•    agricultural policy;
•    rural regeneration and nature conservation;
•    international relations (within the framework of regional matters).

These are implemented by the Parliament of Wallonia and the Walloon Government. 

The Saint-Gilles, headquarter of the Parliament of Wallonia

The Parliament of Wallonia is comprised of 75 members, elected by the Walloon people every five years, by universal suffrage, according to proportional representation, based on 13 constituencies. The Parliament cannot be dissolved early. Its elections take place at the same time as European elections.

The Walloon Parliament essentially has two functions:

  • as the instrument of legislative power, it debates and passes decrees and can take the initiative to draft them;
  • as the supervisory body of the executive power, it supervises the Walloon Government which is accountable to it.

The room of the Council of Ministers at the Élysette

The Walloon Government, comprised of eight members, is elected by majority by the Parliament, but not necessarily from among its members.

Members of the Walloon Government or ministers appoint a Minister-President from within their ranks who assumes the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

A minister or the Government as a whole can be removed from office by the Parliament which must propose and elect a member or team to replace them for the rest of the term.

The Elysette, headquarter of the Walloon Governement © Guy Focant  SPW-Patrimoine The Elysette, headquarter of the Walloon Governement © Guy Focant  SPW-Patrimoine

The Government deliberates collectively, according to the consensus procedure, on all issues for which it is responsible. Most of the decrees passed by the Parliament are drafted by the Government. It sanctions and enacts all of them and adopts the decrees needed for their implementation.

The Government has an administration (the Wallonia Public Service) and public interest organisations responsible for implementing regional policies.

  

Furthermore, the 75 Walloon MPs together with 19 French-speaking MPs from the Brussels Parliament constitute the Parliament of the French Community. Along with the Government elected by this Assembly, they manage the federated powers assigned to the Communities:

  • education and scientific research;
  • cultural issues (including audiovisual);
  • the use of languages;
  • youth and citizen welfare.

The Constitution allows community issues to be transferred directly to the Walloon regional authorities and the French-speaking authorities in the Brussels Region. This faculty was used in 1993 and 2014, alongside the reform of the federal State, further strengthening the central position of the Regions.

Wallonia is part of the Belgian Federal State. Implemented gradually since 1970, this federalism is based on the principles of exclusive jurisdiction, meaning that each entity exercises its own powers alone, and equivalence of standards, i.e. the decrees adopted by the Regions have the same legal standing as federal laws. Hence, the federal system does not experience any administrative supervision or primacy of one entity over another. It is based on collaboration between the entities, which means the prevention and settlement of disputes, competences (through the Constitutional Court) or interests, through the Consultation Committee which has representatives from all federal and federated governments.

In terms of international relations, one of the specific features of Belgian federalism is that it is based on a rule, whereby each entity's domestic jurisdiction extends directly to the international stage. Wallonia is therefore a legal subject in its own right, authorised to conclude treaties directly with other countries in its areas of responsibility. This principle also translates to the European framework. Thus, depending on the issues covered by the European Council, a member of the Walloon Government may be required to represent the entire country. A rotation system has been established for this. The federated entity that represents Belgium in these Council configurations defends Belgium's rather than its own position. This position is defined in advance, within the framework of a federal-federated consultation.