Institutional framework

To achieve European policy objectives on waste, soil and the transition to a circular economy, OVAM cooperates intensively with colleagues and stakeholders from both the European, federal, regional and local level.

EU level

As an EU country, Belgium must comply with EU legislation and a comprehensive policy framework. As one of the three Regions of Belgium, Flanders, like the Walloon Region and the Brussels-Capital region, is part of the EU (European Union) and subject to all European rules. The EU acquis applies, especially for environmental policies. OVAM is obliged to implement and apply several EU Directives and Regulations

OVAM participates and/or represents Belgium in EU forums such as the EU Council working parties, technical committees, expert groups and stakeholder platforms – in areas related to waste, materials, and soil policy and circular economy. 

Federal level

Belgium is a federal state that consists of three regions and three communities. Decision-making power is shared between the federal government, the three communities and the three regions, which are equal before the law and exercise their responsibilities autonomously in various fields.

Therefore Belgium has opted to leave most of the responsibility for implementing environmental policy in the hands of the regional authorities, though the federal government retains some authority in these areas.  

The federal government retains its environmental policy competencies in areas such as: 
  • product standards 
  • nuclear safety (including radioactive waste management and protection of the population against ionising radiation) 
  • waste transit across the country  
  • (green) taxation 

Regional level

The three regions each attend to matters concerning their own territory. OVAM, as an independent agency, falls under the Environment of Flanders policy area, under the Flemish minister of the environment.    

Co-ordination and co-operation

The Belgian federal structure calls for good co-ordination and co-operation on environmental matters between the federal government and the three regions, and sometimes with the three communities as well (e.g. regarding education and health). This co-ordination uses several mechanisms.  

One of the most important mechanisms is the Co-ordination Committee for International Environmental Policy (CCIEP), whose main task is to ensure that Belgium speaks with one voice at the international level.  

The CCIEP has several thematic subgroups dealing with different issues. Each group is led by a representative from a federal or regional administration. The CCIEP meets once a month at a plenary level to take decisions and also consults with relevant stakeholders.  

Local level

The Flemish region consists of five provinces (Antwerp, Flemish Brabant, West Flanders, East Flanders and Limburg) and 300 municipalities. These cities, towns and municipalities play a key role in the local implementation of European, federal and regional policies on waste, material, soil, space and circular economy. We therefore see them as the driving factor in ensuring the success of our policies.  

Good co-operation between the region and the municipalities is thus essential. So we work closely together to find tailor-made solutions to local challenges.   

The Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (VVSG), represents all 300 Flemish municipalities and cities. Interafval is a partnership of Flemish inter-municipal waste companies. It is legally mandated, together with VVSG, to operate and steer local waste management.