Credibility and Accountability in Belgian Competition and Regulatory Policies

Belgium introduced a competition law as recently as 1993. In the same period more or less independent regulatory agencies were installed for telecommunication, postal services and energy. At present the job of regulating infrastructure in the recently opened up sectors of railway transport and airport infrastructure is being given to ministerial departments. It follows that a very different kind of independence is present according to the sector in question.

The purpose of this is to analyse the credibility of the competition authority and these regulators. In how far have the bodies concerned been successful in building up credibility towards the various stakeholders, such as government, the regulated industries and consumers?

In this paper we will also analyze how accountable Belgian competition authorities and regulatory agencies are. The scope of the paper will be on the Belgian Competition Council, on the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (BIPT), on the Committee for the Regulation of Electricity and Gaz (CREG) and on the Ministry of Mobility which houses the two services that regulate railway infrastructure and airport infrastructure respectively.

The purpose of the present study is to also show how Belgium is batting the problem of creating sufficiently independent competition and regulatory authorities without impeding on their accountability to the democratic process. In that way the study can act as an example for other countries, especially developing countries that still have to give form to their institution.