Where is it possible to be only half an hour away from Lille, one hour from Brussels or London, two hours from Paris or Bonn ? It is in the Ideta Region, the heart of Europe, part of the Walloon Region in Belgium. Located between France, Germany, the Netherlands and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Wallonia is now directly linked via the Chunnel to the United Kingdom. The largest market of the world opens itself to the industrials who have chosen to establish their companies in Wallonia.

Institutional framework of Wallonia

Belgium has been a federal state since April 1993, divided into 3 regions : the Walloon, the Flemish and the Brussels-Capital Region. Each region has its own government and exercises full control over areas which have been transferred to it. For the Walloon Region, these areas are :
  • economic and employment policy,
  • foreign trade,
  • tourism,
  • applied scientific research,
  • urban transportation and public works,
  • housing, town and country planning,
  • environment and agriculture,
  • energy and water
  • international relations in the areas.
The Walloon Region represents more than one half of Belgium, with one third of the whole population (more or less 10 million inhabitants).

Basic information :

Surface area : 16.844 km²
Population : 3.255.711
Working population : 1.303.500 (1989)

At the heart of Europe
1/	Railways :

	Thanks to the European High speed Train (TGV) which offers 
	passengers significant time savings on the lines to the major
	cities in Europe (Paris, Luxembourg, Brussels,...), as well as 
	to its world's densest railway network, Wallonia has privileged 
	communication means within Europe.

2/	Motorways :

	The motorway network is linked to all major international routes 
	and is probably the best equipped in the world.

3/	Waterways :

	Wallonia has always been one of Europe's major river crossroads and
	is at the same time a maritime region, thanks to the proximity 
	major ports at Antwerp, Zeebrugge, Ghent, Dunkirk and Rotterdam.

4/	Airports :

	There are 3 airports in Wallonia : Brussels - National airport, 
	Liège - Bierset and Brussels - South - Charleroi - Airport. All 
	Wallonia's cities and industrial centres are less than one hour 
	away from the Brussels - National airport.
	Located at 10 km outside the centre of the capital, Brussels 
	National is served by more than 70 foreign airlines and the Belgian
	national carrier, SABENA, operates routes to more than 54 countries.
	Liège - Bierset is an international airport of the Meuse Rhine 
	Euregio serving destinations such as Paris, London, Nice, Palermo...
	Brussels South Charleroi airport, located at Gosselies, is in the 
	heart of a new technology centre, concentrating on aeronautics and 
	air transport.

Walloon economy

Wallonia, rich in steel and coal has had intense industrial activity since the Middle Ages, and was the first area in Europe to be affected by the Industrial Revolution. Wallonia's industry is well known thanks to industrial barons and inventive geniuses such as Cockerill, Solvay, Empain or Nagelmackers.

These traditional sectors are still important for the region's employment. Wallonia nowadays faces a new challenge : development of high technology. This is clearly demonstrated by the increasing number of innovative small and medium - sized enterprises whose efforts are supported by the public authorities.

An investment location

Its central position and the especially well developed communication network are the two main characteristics of the Walloon economy. In order to support and facilitate foreign investments, the Walloon Region offers every sort of public help. Fully equipped industrial or service zones, scientific complexes or warehouses have been created. A full range of incentives are proposed to encourage the development of a diversified network of small and medium - sized companies, to support employment, training, research and development activities, and to benefit from different fiscal measures. The Walloon Region encourages in particular investments in strategic sectors, such as telecommunications, aeronautics, micro-electronics, biotechnology and agro-food industry.


Wallonia has the highest export rates per inhabitant in the world (Wallonia generates 1 % of all world trade). The Dare-Awex within the Walloon Regional Ministry is one of the organizations promoting the interests of the Region at an international level and supporting companies, universities or other research centres wanting to develop their activities abroad. The Office for Foreign Investors also establishes privileged contacts with potential investors and prospects foreign markets (USA, Japan, Taiwan).

Welcoming infrastructures in Wallonia

The Walloon Region is divided into more than 150 industrial zones that are administrated by the Region together with joint bodies set up by groups of communes, the "intercommunales". Eight of these industrial zones are located within a privileged part of Wallonia : the Hainaut Region.

The Hainaut Region

The Hainaut Region is an outstanding region for investors, at the heart of the European golden triangle, representing 70 million consumers within a 300 km radius and situated as a main crossroads Paris - Rotterdam - London - Frankfurt, lying on the new trans-channel economic axis Brussels - Lille. Lille is the Fourth City in France with more than 1,5 million inhabitants.

Basic information

The Hainaut Region with its 3,785 km² represents more or less 12.4 % of the Belgian territory.
Despite its small size, it is the most densely populated region of Wallonia, with 1,283,252 inhabitants in 1992, which is 39.4 % of the Walloon population.

Objective 1

July 20th 1993, the European Community adopted the new decisions concerning the objectives of the structural funds, according to which the Belgian Hainaut Region would receive special help in the framework of "Objective 1", an European economic development and structural adjustment programme. The Walloon Region and financial organizations, together with various local investment companies are cooperating for the development of the Hainaut Region.

One of these local operators is IDETA.

The IDETA region

The Intercommunale de Développement Economique des arrondissements de Tournai, d'Ath et de communes avoisinantes (IDETA-intercommunes agency for the economic development of Tournai, Ath and neighbouring communes) was formed on the initiative of the region's economic and corporate bodies. IDETA covers 20 communes between Brussels and Lille, with a total population of 250,000.

The IDETA region lies on the London - Lille - Brussels axis, in one of the most promising economic areas in Europe. With the removal of all economic barriers within Europe, as a result of the Single Market, the IDETA region has become the centre of a densely populated, cross-border triangle. It lies on the East-West axis linking the UK to Germany and Eastern Europe, and on the North-South axis linking Scandinavia to Spain, Portugal and Italy. The region has an excellent communications systems :
1/	Direct connection with the motorway network 
2/	Brussels International Airport at less than 1 hour 
3/	Lille-Lesquin European Airport at less than 25 minutes
4/	French Super High Speed Train "TGV" link TODAY our region to 
	PARIS in 1 hour and 30 minutes.
The industrial background-tradition and modernity hand in hand.

The region has a long tradition in textiles, mining, quarrying, printing, publishing, the cement industry, construction and agriculture, and food. In recent years the region has diversified into leading technologies such as chemicals and paramedical equipment.

Several subsidiaries of major multinational groups have set up in the region, taking advantage of the quantity and quality of the workforce, as well as the region's other advantages. Companies such as BAXTER from the US, BAYER from Germany, and DUNLOP and GRAND METROPOLITAN from the U.K have all moved to the region and found a highly qualified labour force and staff. Such a workforce is the product of the region's technical colleges and nearby universities.

An art of living - new horizons, new visions, new sensations

Work is an integral part of life for people, who are setting up businesses in the region but it is not the only factor. The region offers its cultural resources to the businessman and his family. It is a place in which you discover the quality of life. The quiet beauty of the region's countryside, its rivers and its forests provide a series of pleasures to the newcomer, as do the old city streets and the architectural splendours of the "Chateau de Beloeil" and the "Cathedrale de Tournai".

Leisure activities are well-served, with swimming-pools, libraries, museums, festivals and flower markets making up the tissue of the region's everyday life.

The main cities
  • The City of Tournai is situated near the Channel coast, on the border between France and Belgium. It has a direct motorway link to the nearby city of Lille, and to Lille airport. Tournai is an administrative and service centre with a wealth of architectural and tourist assets. It is a natural gateway to the region.
  • Companies in the car or transport service and high technology industries have located in the industrial estate, west of Tournai. The sugar industry, developed in the area in the 19th century, is launching new products from local sources, and the world's most modern sugar refinery has been built here. Other industries located here include printing and publishing, and limestone quarrying. The largest limestone quarry in Europe, directly linked to Europe's rail network, is already in production here.
  • The excellent motorway network has helped the city of Ath to develop into a successful urban area. The motorways are the reason for the success of industrial parks such as Ath-Ghislenghien and Lessines. Located only 20 minutes from Brussels, Ath should find little difficulty in fulfilling its wish to become a bridge between Lille and Brussels, and an attractive economic area.
  • Enghien is a western suburb of the city of Brussels, and as such is ideally located for distribution operations. The urban planning and management masterplan will make quality of housing a major issue.
The activities of IDETA
  • Creation and development of industrial sites
  • Assistance to develop and set up enterprises
  • Contact with Governement offices and European authorities
  • Creation and development of natural parks
  • Development of urban and rural areas on a regional level, including local and regional planning for town and country regeneration
  • Environmental protection, including the rehabilitation of vacant sites, conservation projects
  • Restoration and conservation of the region's architectural heritage
  • Tourist development programme
The agency also has a wide range of activities in the specific field of investment promotion, its role being to assist investors at every stage of a project. In practical terms, IDETA welcomes investors to the area and gives them any relevant information that might be needed for a relocation study. IDETA has divided the region into a number of zones to make its organisational task more manageable. Many of the facilities provided by IDETA are financed with the support of the region's public authorities.

When an investor has made the decision to invest, IDETA is able to sell land in the region's fully-equipped industrial parks at highly competitive prices. The agency can also intervene on behalf of the investor in order to settle any pratical problems he may experience. As an officially recognised agency, IDETA enjoys great privileges in its relationship with the public authorities at both regional and national level, as well as with financial institutions, chambers of commerce, employment agencies and government offices.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the area. For further information please contact Henri Dehareng on +32 69 23 47 01.