Legal framework

Elia’s business activities are governed by European, national and regional legislation.



The European electricity market is notably governed by:

  • Directive 2009/72/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 concerning common rules for the internal market in electricity and repealing Directive 2003/54/EC;
  • Regulation (EC) no. 714/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 July 2009 on conditions for access to the network for cross-border exchanges in electricity and repealing Regulation (EC) no. 1228/2003.

This legislation is part of the third energy package (a series of measures to liberalise the European Union’s energy market). Visit the European Commission’s website for more information.




The Special Institutional Reform Act of 8 August 1980 awarded the federal and regional authorities joint responsibility for energy policy.

The basic legislation for each level is based on similar principles:

  • There is a legal separation between generation and sale on the one hand and system operation on the other.
  • The transmission system operator retains a monopoly linked to strict rules of corporate governance.
  • There is free access to the system at the approved and published tarrifs.
  • The system operator has a public service obligation,such as being required to achieve a minimum level of electricity quality or to purchase green certificates.
  • The system is monitored by a regulator.


Federal level

The federal authorities are responsible for 'matters which, on account of their technical and economic indivisibility, must be dealt with on an equal basis at national level', in other words matters that need a coordinated approach at national level. This also applies to energy transmission, i.e. the 150 kV to 380 kV high-voltage transmission system operated by Elia.

Elia has a legal monopoly as Belgium’s transmission system operator. This licence is valid for 20 years and can be renewed.

The federal government develops and drafts the tariff policy for the transmission system operator and the distribution system operators.

The basic legislation at federal level is the law amending the Electricity Act of 29 April 1999 on the organisation of the electricity market. This law was published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 8 January 2012.


Regional level

The regions are responsible for distributing and transmitting electricity locally via networks with a nominal voltage of 70 kV or less.

There is a distinction between operating systems with a voltage of 70 kV and those with a lower voltage. This means that distribution systems (with a voltage lower than 70 kV) operate alongside the following networks:

  • the local transmission system (in Wallonia);
  • the regional transmission system (Brussels-Capital region);
  • plaatselijk vervoernet (in Flanders).

These systems have a voltage of 70 kV and link up with the federal transmission system. Elia operates these systems.

The three regions are also responsible for renewable energies (excluding federally governed North Sea wind farms) and the rational use of energy (RUE).

The basic legislation for each region is the following: