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INSPIRE Directive

What is the INSPIRE Directive?

The Directive 2007/2 EC establishing an Infrastructure for Spatial Information in the European Community and called INSPIRE Directive has been passed by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union and establishes an Infrastructure for Spatial Information and spatial data at the European level.

From a legal point of view, in order to create the Infrastructure for Spatial Information, the Directive and various related regulations require each dataset to be documented with comprehensive metadata. This metadata provides information for each dataset:

  • The title;
  • The summary;
  • The institution in charge;
  • ...

In addition, the Directive also requires that each dataset be viewable on an online map and downloadable using standardised protocols.   

Therefore, although conceived as a means et not as a purpose, the INSPIRE Directive has contributed to the early standardisation of the documentation and distribution of spatial datasets.

Why was the INSPIRE Directive passed?

In doing so, the Directive aims to make the necessary information available to administrations or institutions that need it to develop their own environmental policies. By having an easy and centralized access point to environmental data, the different stakeholders will be able to decide and implement the most appropriate environmental protection policies. 

How do Belgian authorities meet the objectives of the INSPIRE Directive?

The INSPIRE directive was transposed at federal level by the law of December 15th 2011 and by the regions via decrees and ordinances. A cooperation agreement has been concluded between the regions and the federal state to ensure optimal cooperation between the federated entities and the federal government.

The Belgian National Geographic Institute maintains the federal Geoportal. On this portal are available the datasets and services declared to the INSPIRE monitoring by the federal administrations, but also a large number of datasets and geographic services published without being declared to the INSPIRE monitoring.  All datasets and services published by the General Administration of Patrimonial Documentation that fall under the INSPIRE Directive are available on the Federal Geoportal.  

Similarly, regional administrations maintain their own geoportals:   

These include a large number of geographic datasets and services maintained by the regions.   

At both federal and regional level, the access standards imposed by the INSPIRE Directive, which are legally applicable to a limited set of datasets, are in practice used to document and provide access to almost all of Belgium's spatial datasets.

The European Commission has developed a community infrastructure, that is to say the European Geoportal. Only datasets that have been declared to the INSPIRE monitoring can be found on this portal. Most of them can be displayed on the geoportal viewer and downloaded.