National Stadium: a Belgian Story

Do you know a bit about the UEFA European Football Championship 2020? In case you do not, keep in mind that the competition will be held in 13 cities from several European countries. It will be an exceptional tournament, as the teams will play across the Old continent.

Since Brussels is one the capitals of the European Union and a major city in Europe, hosting some games makes sense, especially since games would involve economic and touristic impacts in the Belgian capital. Here comes the tricky point though: the Roi Baudoin stadium does not actually comply with the UEFA standards. It means that Brussels cannot host any game in 2020 today. This is why different options have been considered by the relevant stakeholders and a new stadium should be built up by 2020 in Grimbergen (Flanders).

To build a stadium, the company in charge of such a project, Ghelamco, is required to obtain a building permit as well as an environmental permit. The approval of these permits, however, lies within different authorities. The building permit was supposed to be granted by the commune of Grimbergen, which rejected this option at the end of March. And the environmental permit lies within the province of Flemish Brabant, which found the new stadium would involve more traffic jam and air pollution. That’s why the environmental permit has been refused in June. If Ghelamco does not get both permits, the company can’t start the works in order to set up the new national stadium by 2020, which is actually only in three years.

Some associations and organisations, such as the supporters of the Red devils (Diables rouges), have recently shared their anger with regard to the procedures. According to them, hosting games during the UEFA Euro 2020 is a fundamental stake and should be a priority.

Ghelamco then announced on the 16th of August that it would appeal both decisions before the Flemish authority, at the regional level. It was not able to ask Flanders to deal with this project before, as procedures were ongoing at the communal and provincial levels, but both of them have now expired. The Flemish government (the NV-A) will soon have the ability to decide whether a new stadium will be built up over the coming months and years.

When Ghelamco brings the case before the Flemish authorities, they will have 120 days to make their decision public and effective. In case they accept both permits, the works will be finally able to start in Grimbergen. Did you have any doubt about the complexity of the Belgian administrative procedures?