Independent regulators in Belgian public law

Inspired by the American and British experiences, the EU requires Member States to entrust regulatory powers to authorities independent from the government. Drawing on examples from the energy and the electronic communications sectors, this paper highlights how these regulators has faced resistances from the legislature, the executive and the Council of State in Belgium. Resistances have taken a variety of forms, ranging from restrictive interpretations of EU law requirements to create these regulators to straightforward violations of the powers and independence that they should enjoy. They were driven by a ideological difficulty with the very concept of regulation at arm’s length from the government and a desire to protect vested interests from powerful (public) actors. Yet, independent regulators have now become part of the Belgian institutional landscape, although it remains doubtful that they are truly embedded in Belgian political and constitutional culture.