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Make a PSI request for re-use in Belgium

This time we are in Belgium. The legal framework is affected by the federal nature of the country: a proliferation of laws in three different languages that makes it difficult for re-users to find the right way to make a request, especially if they are not local.

Legal framework

Belgium is a federal constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It is divided into three autonomous regions: Flanders in the north, Wallonia in the south, and the Brussels-Capital Region. Further to that, there are three communities (French, Flemish and German). Each of these entities has its own legislative and executive powers.

Access to information

The principle of access to information was introduced for the first time in 1991 by the federated parliament of Flanders (Decree of 23 October 1991 concerning access to administrative documents within the institutions of the Flemish government).

The constitutional reform of 1993 incorporated the right of access to administrative documents in article 32 but under the condition that federal or regional laws can establish specific rules on the matter. This condition was the natural consequence of the division of power rules within the constitutional framework.
As a result, the Federal Act of 11 April 1994 concerning access to administrative documents was complemented over the years by the legislation of the autonomous Regions. Although they generally kept its general structure, there is the exception of the aforementioned Flemish Decree of 23 October 1991.

Here below a non-exhaustive list of the laws actually in force regarding access to public information.

Federal measures:

  • Federal law of 11 April 1994 relating to access to government information;
  • Federal law of 5 August 2006 on public access to environmental information;
  • Federal law of 21 December 2013 to enhance the transparency, independency and credibility of decisions and opinions in the field of health insurance, the health, the safety of the food chain and the environment (Belgian OJ 20 February 2014);

 Brussels-Capital Region

  • Ordinance of the Council of the Brussels Region of 30 March 1995 on access government information;
  • Ordinance of the Council of the Brussels Region of 18 March 2004 on access to environmental information;
  • Ruling of 12 January 2006 concerning the transparency of the remunerations and benefits of the Brussels public officials (Belgian OJ 1 February 2006);

Flanders Region

  • Decree of 26 March 2004 relating to access to government information;
  • Decree of 22 November 2013 concerning good governance in the Flemish public sector (OJ 9 January 2014);

Walloon Region

  • Decree of the of 30 March 1995 relating to access to government information;
  • Decree of 7 April 2011 concerning good governance in the execution of public mandates (OJ 5 May 2011).

French community

Decree of the French community of 31 March 2011 concerning the board in the implementation of the government mandates with the Government agencies and within the Government derived entities (OJ 24 May 2011)

French community Commission of the Brussels Region

Decree of 24 April 2014 concerning governance and transparency in the execution of public mandates (OJ 19 January 2015)

 

Re-use of information

When it comes to the right to re-use of information, the legislative framework appears also complex. There are several Federal measures, which are overlapped by laws issued by the Regions and Communities. Here below the main references.

Federal measures:

  • Law on re-use of public sector information of 4 May 2016, Moniteur Belge, 03/06/2016, p. 34149, Original bilingual version (FR/NL)
  • Royal decree establishing the procedure and deadlines for processing applications for re-use of public sector information and monitoring requirements for the provision of administrative documents of 29/10/2007, Moniteur Belge, 06/11/2007, p. 56338-56341 Original bilingual version (FR/NL)
  •  Royal decree on the composition and functioning of the Commission for access to and re-use of administrative records of 29/04/2008, Moniteur Belge, 08/05/2008, p. 24362-24368 Original bilingual version (FR, NL)

Brussels-Capital Region

Order transposing the Directive on the re-use of public sector information of 6/03/2008, Moniteur Belge du 08/04/2008, p. 18703-18707 Bilingual version FR/NL

 Ordinance on the establishment of an open data policy and transposing Directive 2013/37/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2013 amending Directive 2003/98/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 November 2003 on the re-use of public sector information, Moniteur Belge du 10/11/2016, p. 74728 - Bilingual version FR/NL

Flanders Region

  • Decree on the re-use of public sector information of 27/04/2007 Moniteur Belge, 05/11/2007, p. 56250-56256 Original bilingual version (NL, FR)
  • Decree amending the decree of 27 April 2007 on the re-use of public sector information and the decree of 18 July 2008 on the electronic exchange of administrative information of 12 June 2015, Moniteur Belge 30 June 2015, p. 37664 - original bilingual version (NL, FR)
  • Decision of the Flemish Government on the reuse of public sector within the Flemish ministries and agencies of 19/07/2007, Moniteur Belge, 05/11/2007, p. 56256-56257 Original bilanguage version (FR/NL)
  • Decree of the Flemish Government establishing the professional body for public access and reuse of public sector of 19/07/2007 Moniteur Belge du 05/11/2007, p. 56257-56261 Original bilanguage version (FR/NL)
  • Ministerial decision establishing the licensing model for re-use of public sector information of 8/10/2007, Moniteur Belge du 05/11/2007, p. 56277-56281 Original language version; EN translation
  •  Appellate Body on public access and re-use of public information of 8/10/2007, Moniteur Belge du 05/11/2007, p. 56282-56282 Original language version - EN translation

Walloon Region

Joint decree by the Walloon Region and the French community on the re-use of public sector information and on the establishment of an Open Data policy of 19 July 2017, Moniteur Belge of 13/09/2017, p. 83586, Original language version

The French community

Joint decree by the Walloon Region and the French community on the re-use of public sector information and on the establishment of an Open Data policy of 19 July 2017, Moniteur Belge of 13/09/2017, p. 83586, Original language version

The German community


The Commission for Access to Administrative Documents (CADA)

As in France and Portugal, also in Belgium there is a special commission that collects and decides on appeals against refusals to provide administrative documents by a public sector body or other problems that might raise during the processing of access/re-use requests.

The multitude of entities with their own legislative and executive powers has led to the multiplication of commissions; in fact, we have:


In practice

It is indeed rather difficult for re-users to deal with the jungle of laws listed above. What to do then? Fortunately, there is a website that can help in making requests.

 

Transparencia.be is a website similar to whatdotheyknow.com. You can browse the repository to find similar requests to the one you plan to make or to find a public sector body you think might have the information. It also provides you with a form to make requests as shown in the image below. You simply have to insert the title of the request and a description. Pay attention to the fact that no references to laws are automatically added to the request and it is up to you eventually find the right law article to mention.

 

As usual if you want that your request appear also in the repository of PSI Monitor, just add the tag #psimonitor at the end of the description otherwise you would have to add it manually. This action would ensure a wider exposure of your request at European level and that might contribute to a successful conclusion of the application.

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A transparent and publicly accessible database of requests for the re-use of public sector information (PSI).

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