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Meet our new commissioner-general: Pieter De Crem

The Belgian Commission General for International Exhibitions, better known as BelExpo, is responsible for Belgian representation at World Expos and other international exhibitions. Some recently completed BelExpo projects include Belgium's participation in Expo 2020 Dubai and Floriade Expo 2022 in Almere.

BelExpo coordinates the entire process of each exhibition, from start to finish, under the leadership of a commissioner-general and with the support of a Technical committee and the involvement of Belgian federal and regional authorities


Mr Pieter De Crem appointed commissioner-general of BelExpo


On 12 November 2023, Mr Pieter De Crem was officially appointed commissioner-general of the Belgian Commission General for International Exhibitions by Royal Decree. Mr De Crem will lead BelExpo in Belgium's participation in Expo 2025 Osaka.

Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne submitted his proposal to appoint Mr De Crem to the Council of Ministers on 27 October 2023. During that meeting, both the appointment of Mr De Crem as the new commissioner-general and the appointment of Ms Jehanne Roccas as the new chairman of BelExpo's Board of Directors were approved.

The drafts were submitted to the King for signature. That signing finally happened on 12 November, when the decision was formalised.


Nomination procedure


BelExpo, or the Belgian Commission General for International Exhibitions, is an administrative department with accounting autonomy (ADBA). BelExpo came into being in April 2017 within the FPS Economy. For each World Expo organised under the auspices of the Bureau International des Expositions, the Council of Ministers appoints a new commissioner-general who will lead BelExpo during the preparations towards such an expo as well as during the duration of that expo. The mandate ends no later than six months after the end of the expo.

The procedure for appointing the new commissioner-general was started on 27 April 2022, when the vacancy was published in the Belgian Official Journal. On 12 November, that procedure came to an end after the Royal Decree was signed.

Candidates had to submit their applications no later than 17 May 2022 to the FPS Economy, where the final responsibility for the selection procedure lay with Mr Renaat Schrooten, Director-General of the General Directorate of Economic Analyses and International Economy.

The vacancy specified the extensive experience candidates had to have. Thus, candidates had to have good knowledge of the Belgian institutional, cultural, economic and industrial framework, communication, both commercial and liaison, as well as international relations, more specifically in the Asian world.

In addition, candidates were expected to have a clear vision of the evolutions in the Belgian technology world and the innovation landscape in function of the development of an exhibition concept. 

In a first phase of the selection procedure, the FPS Economy carried out an extensive CV screening.  Those candidates were then invited for an in-depth interview in a second phase in which those competences were thoroughly tested. Mr Pieter De Crem emerged as the laureate as a result.


Pieter De Crem: profile 


Mr De Crem was born in Aalter on 22 July 1962. He is married and the father of three children.

Besides studying Romance Philology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and European and International Law at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, he is also an Alumnus of the Harvard Business School. After completing his studies, Mr De Crem engaged heavily in politics. In 1995, he became mayor of Aalter, an office he still holds today.

Throughout his career, Mr De Crem also had the opportunity to take on some important responsibilities at national level. For instance, he was Chairman of the Group in the Chamber of Representatives, Minister of Defence, Deputy Prime Minister, State Secretary for Foreign Trade and Minister for Internal Affairs and Security.

From 12 November 2023, he may then also add commissioner-general of the Belgian Commission General for International Exhibitions.




Commissioner-general: responsibilities


A commissioner-general is ultimately responsible for the day-to-day management of BelExpo. In doing so, the CG is always supported by a Board of Directors. In consultation with that committee, the CG develops a vision for BelExpo within the social and institutional context as well as the cultural, economic and industrial framework of Belgium.

The elaboration of content, the programming and the concrete implementation of the Belgian pavilion and thus Belgian participation in Expo 2025 Osaka fall under the CG's supervision. That knowledge of industrial and technological developments in Belgium is essential for this.

A CG also represents Belgium at the Bureau International des Expositions. The CG is Belgium's signpost to the intergovernmental organisation that deals with the organisation of international exhibitions. International relations, contacts and knowledge are crucial for this.


Expo 2025 Osaka: state of affairs


The design of the Belgian pavilion was officially unveiled on 18 July 2023, followed by the submission of the temporary building permit to Osaka Municipality on 15 September 2023. Belgium acquired the 7th position in terms of submitting such permits, after which, after 5 weeks, approval for the pavilion at Expo 2025 Osaka was obtained, a week ahead of schedule. Belgium became the 3rd country whose permit was approved.

On 19 October 2023, it was announced that Belgium distinguished itself as the first country to both obtain a temporary construction permit and select a Japanese contractor for the project.

As for the construction of the pavilion, we submitted the General Design Plan to the Expo organisers on 20 October 2023, and received its final approval on 27 December 2023. Despite this milestone, we remain committed to meeting the Detailed Design Submission deadline.

The Belgian plot was officially handed over to the pavilion contractor on 15 January 2024, exactly one day before the Ground-Breaking Ceremony on 16 January 2024. From then on, the team could finally officially start work on Yumeshima Island.

On 16 January 2024, the Ground-Breaking Ceremony took place on Yumeshima Island, where the first work on the Belgian plot was symbolically carried out in the presence of our Commissioner-General, Mr De Crem, as well as H.E. Ambassador Antoine Evrard and H.E. H.E. Koji Haneda, Commissioner-General for Expo 2025 Osaka.

On 29 January 2024, the consortium began the first mobilisation works on the Belgian plot as part of the preparations for the construction of the Belgian pavilion.

At the same time, BelExpo launched a second, comprehensive public tender for the Belgian pavilion on 30 June 2023. This contract will provide the visitor journey of the pavilion, including the interior design and especially the exhibition scenography. The selection phase for this contract has recently been completed, seeking three consortia with various key figures and experts for the visitor journey. Currently, the award phase, the second stage of the procedure, is in full swing. Once again, we hope to be successful in putting together a dedicated team of professionals, similar to the first public tender.