Belgium Report


Main Actors

Once adopted, Belgium’s Comprehensive Approach will be steered and monitored by three entities: a diplomatic mission relevant for the chosen region or issue, a steering group, and a task force. The role of the diplomatic mission will be to establish a consultation platform with the Belgian authorities in the country to serve two functions. First, it will aim to identify and optimise the upstream flow of available information from the field and to thereby participate in the early warning system. Second, it will serve to aid the downstream flow of information to the field for implementation and monitoring.
At the political-strategic level, the steering group – chaired by a representative of the Foreign Affairs Direction Committee and attended by representatives of the federal departments – will manage the Comprehensive Approach. In doing so, it will be responsible for orienting Comprehensive Approach activities and prioritising themes and countries as well as for periodically reviewing and adapting the Comprehensive Approach. Other participating departments will also provide input. For example, the Military Intelligence Service of the Ministry of Defence will supply relevant strategic and operational intelligence to the steering group.
Once the goals of a specific Comprehensive Approach effort have been defined by the steering group, a dedicated Comprehensive Approach task force will be set up on an ad hoc basis. This task force will be chaired by the director of the Geographical Directorate (DGB) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or by another director with expertise in the particular issue at hand. However, if the country or theme concerns a partner country in development-cooperation efforts, the task force will be co-chaired by the director of the DGB and the director of the Directorate-general for Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid (DGD). Co-chairmanship may also be used when the country or issue involved plays a major role for another department (e.g. defence). The task force is responsible for implementing the Comprehensive Approach. It will be supplied with tactical intelligence and information from the Military Intelligence Service or the relevant officials in the field, and it will report to the steering group.
The system just described will be a flexible and pragmatic way to balance the potentially diverging interests of various participants. Indeed, creating a dedicated task force is the best way to cope with diverse cooperation levels, which may gradually become more integrated. In addition to promoting better information exchange, they can also determine whether synergies with external actors (e.g. the EU, the UN, NATO, the OSCE or regional organisations) are possible. Moreover, they can play a key role in developing common analyses and exploring ways to foster dialogue with partners with a shared agenda. The task force will also be able to work on joint planning, financing, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of joint projects and programmes.
At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Directorate-general Coordination and European Affairs (DGE) is responsible for preparing, defining, representing, managing and following Belgium’s European policy. The DGE and the Directorate-general for Multilateral Affairs and Globalisation (DGM) are both responsible for following the EU’s external policy in its entirety. At the European level, the DGE is in contact with foreign partners. At the national level, it liaises with the technical departments; the French-, Dutch- and German-speaking communities; and the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels-Capital regions. Furthermore, it helps to shape public opinions about the country’s EU policies, including, of course, those involving external actions.
Furthermore, the DGE plays a key role in facilitating policy coherence within the European Union framework. The EU External Relations Directorate of the DGM follows the European Union’s external relations, while its Security Policy Directorate is responsible for managing, promoting, developing and coordinating European security and defence policy. It is also in charge of international security in the boarder sense and, in this role, participates in all aspects of the decision-making process within international organisations, such as NATO and the OSCE. On the other hand, the United Nations Directorate is responsible for promoting and developing global international cooperation within the framework of the United Nations. This organisation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs already existed before the Strategy Note on a Comprehensive Approach was formulated. As past experiences shaped this structure, its efficiency and quality may be considered fully optimised.
Belgian military advisers are present at the level of the permanent representations to the UN, NATO, the EU and the OSCE. Moreover, a diplomat seconded to the Ministry of Defence may represent the department at the level of the steering group together with the chief of staff. Under the chief of staff, the Belgian Armed Forces General Staff has an assistant chief of staff (ACOS) responsible for strategic issues, an ACOS responsible for operations, and an ACOS responsible for intelligence. The three departments are those that could be involved in a Comprehensive Approach. The Strategy Note also contains a series of rather generic guidelines for the other federal departments.
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