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What does a commune do?

In what areas are the communes the competent authority?
As a political authority, the commune has a lot of autonomy to exercise its powers on its own territory. In return it is subject to the control of the Government of the Region, through Brussels Local Authorities (FR/NL).

In essence, the commune’s policies are spread over three main areas:

  1. Strictly communal initiatives:
    • Establishing the communal regulations on matters as diverse as public parks, clean streets, planning permission and cemeteries. See the IRISbox page on this website for a rundown of your commune’s online services
    • Creating and making facilities available for citizens: communal schools, crèches, sports centres and cultural centres
    • Taxation based on the tax regulations (FR/NL)
    • Maintaining and renovating public spaces managed by the commune (some public spaces are managed by the Region): roads, pavements, squares, public gardens
    • Any other initiative the commune deems important at local level: introduction of community workers, evening courses, twinnings, activities for senior citizens etc.
  2. Compulsory services: citizens should contact the communal administration but the commune has virtually no power to take autonomous decisions: it is simply obliged to provide this service by the federal or regional legislation. These include the registration of births, marriages and deaths, and the issuance of driving licenses.
  3. Financial and political participation in other public institutions:
    • Every commune has its own Centre Public d’Action Sociale (CPAS), which has its own legal personality, administration and management powers, although it is partly funded from the commune’s budget and there are links between the political bodies of the two institutions
    • The commune can combine with other communes to provide a service by means of an Inter-communal association, for example in the field of energy or music schools
    • The commune plays a prominent role in safety policy, participating both financially and politically in the police zones
    • The commune is represented in some bodies managing religious groups when it is responsible for funding any deficit these groups might run up (Catholic, Protestant, Anglican and Jewish).
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