Policy Background

The primary jurisdiction for research policy in Belgium is in the three regions and three communities, while the Federal State retains some competences. Government responsibilities are as follows:

  • The regions (Flanders, Wallonia, Brussels-Capital) are responsible for research policy on economic development, encompassing technological development and applied research.
  • The communities (French, Flemish and German speaking) are responsible for education and fundamental research in universities and higher education establishments.
  • The federal state retains responsibility for research that requires homogenous execution at national level, and research in international agreements (e.g. space research, defence research).

This institutional context has a profound influence on the governance of research policy. There are formally seven independent Belgian authorities carrying out their own policies in science, research, technology and innovation. Each entity has a minister responsible for science (science is generally only one element in a broader portfolio). In Federal Government, the responsibility is with the Minister for SMEs, Agriculture, and Science Policy. In Brussels-Capital, the Minister for Economy, External trade, Employment and Scientific Research is responsible for R&D issues. In Flanders, there is a division responsible for policy on the economy and policy on science, innovation and technology. Two ministers are responsible for policy on the Economy, Science, and Innovation. Science comes under the ministerial portfolio that includes Innovation, Public Funding, Media, and Poverty Prevention. Since 2009, Wallonia and the French Community have had one Minister-President for both governments, and several ministers have portfolios for both regional and community affairs. This is the case for scientific research, which is the responsibility of a single minister for both regional and community aspects.

Institutional framework of transport research

The Belgian Federal Science Policy Office is responsible for coordinating science policy, the design and implementation of research programmes and networks, the management of Belgium's participation in European and international organisations, and the supervision of ten federal scientific establishments. In the Brussels-Capital region, INNOVIRIS (Brussels Institute for Research and Innovation) manages funding for research and innovation. Organisation Research in Brussels encourages and promotes scientific research and technological innovation in the Brussels-Capital region. In Flanders, the Department of Economy, Science and Innovation is principally focused on policy design and management, while two agencies are primarily responsible for implementation, namely:

  • Research Funding Council
  • Institute for the promotion of Innovation by Science and Technology.

Transport policy is defined by several levels of government. At Federal level, the main characteristics and priorities of transport policy are set out in the General Policy Note on Energy, Environment and Mobility of the Chamber of Belgian Representatives. One document is the Regional Development Plan, which provides a general strategy and priorities for the regional development. The Commune Plan of Mobility in the Walloon region and Mobility Plan Flanders provide the foundation for planning transport and mobility in the respective regions.

The transport sector at this level is the responsibility of the Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport which prepares and implements federal policy on mobility. The Walloon Government has a Minister for Mobility, responsible for coordinating transport and mobility in the region. The Flemish Government has a Department of Mobility and Public Works which coordinates transport policy in the region. Finally, in the Brussels-Capital region, transport and mobility are regulated by several units of the Ministry of the Brussels-Capital (Bruxelles Mobilité), the most important of which are:

  • Directorate of Infrastructure and Public transport
  • Directorate General, Mobility Centre
  • Directorate Strategy.

In this institutional set-up, transport research is funded through various mechanisms. The Federal Government funds research programmes of national interest, the largest one being space.

The European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2003 under Belgium Law. It includes 27 research institutes and universities who promote European transport research.

Funding Sources and Support Initiatives

Programmes and frameworks for funding research on transport related topics: