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About the Region

Created in 1989 the Brussels-Capital Region is a public authority with its own institutions.
The Brussels-Capital Region was created on the territory of the 19 communes by the Special Act of 12 January 1989. It brought a long journey to an end, with many ups and downs in the political life of Belgium.

There are lots of milestones on the way to the Brussels-Capital Region’s establishment in January 1989.

The Brussels-Capital Region: key dates

1970: the Belgian Constitution is revised to include the country’s three Regions – the Walloon Region, the Flemish Region and the Brussels Region. The principle is accepted but its practical implementation is deferred.

1971: a single body is established to oversee the 19 Brussels communes. The Agglomeration becomes the competent body in such areas as regional development, transport, safety, health, environmental maintenance and economic expansion.

1977-1978: the Egmont Pact and a year later the Stuyvenberg Agreements, political accords on institutional reform, provide for the creation of three equivalent Regions, with similar rights being granted to Flemish people in Brussels and French speakers of the periphery. However, plans are frozen following the fall of the government.

1980: the Special Act of 8 August establishes the Region’s institutions, but does not comprise any arrangements relating to the Brussels Region, because political agreement proves impossible.

1989: the Special Act of 12 January establishes once and for all the Brussels-Capital Region on the territory of the 19 communes, setting up legislative and executive bodies. It also transfers competences of the Agglomeration to the new structure.

The special characteristics of the Brussels-Capital Region

The Brussels-Capital Region is the only bilingual Region in Belgium. Its legislative power is exercised through orders (ordonnances), which do not have the same legal force as federal laws or regional decrees (décrets). It also has a special relationship with the federal authority, due to its international role and its position as capital of the country. This is expressed in the Beliris (FR/NL) cooperation mechanism.

The iris: the emblem of the Brussels-Capital Region

The iris has been the emblem of the Brussels-Capital Region since 1991 and is today used by all Brussels institutions.

The yellow iris, a plant grown from a bulb with large showy flowers, has grown wild in the region for thousands of years, going back to an age when much of the territory of present-day Brussels in the Senne valley was marshland.

If you would like to use the iris emblem, go to the page on the Brussels-Capital's house style.

At the present time the surface area of the territory of the Brussels-Capital Region, comprising the 19 Brussels communes, is 162 square km.