Since the signing of the Special Act of 5 May 1993, the so-called St. Michael's Agreement,
every level of government in Belgium - including Flanders - can pursue its own policy abroad
with regard to its domestic competences, including the conclusion of treaties (ius tractandi).
This principle is described as "in foro interno, in foro externo".
In this context Flanders maintains bilateral relations with various countries in various fields.
Because the great challenges of the 21st century transcend national or regional boundaries and
increasingly require global answer, we also invest in multilateral cooperation, through
multilateral institutions, such as UNESCO, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
For all of its devolved competences, the Government of Flanders co-decides the Belgian positions
taken within the European Union. The Government of Flanders does so together, and on an equal
footing, with the governments of the other Communities and Regions as well as the federal
The General Representatives of the Government of Flanders abroad serve as instruments of the
foreign policy of Flanders. They are the first point of contact in European cities, such as
Paris, The Hague, Berlin and London, and in a number of other capital cities around the world,
such as Pretoria. They work in close cooperation with the respective Belgian Embassies. Their
field of activity covers all areas in which Flanders has extensive decision-making powers. The
Government of Flanders also has foreign representatives focusing specifically on trade and
investment, and on tourism.