Government bonds

Highly popular with investors for their defensive qualities, eurozone government bonds merit a place in a well-diversified portfolio since they add to its stability.

What are government bonds?

A sovereign bond (also called a bon d'Etat/Staatsbon in Belgium) is a bond issued in the medium to long term by a government that guarantees full repayment of capital at maturity and the payment of an annual coupon. The risks that it presents are primarily those relating to the solvency of the issuing State and to the currency in which it is issued.


  • Terms and conditions of the loan issue known from the outset (term, coupons, etc.).
  • Repayment in full of the nominal value at maturity
  • Safe-bet investments: when the stock markets are in turmoil, sovereign bonds are seen as a safe-bet investment and prove to be less volatile than other classes of bond.
  • Eurozone sovereign bonds add to the stability of a portfolio.


Overview actual issues of Government bonds


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In comparison with other classes of bonds, the risks inherent in eurozone government bonds are relatively limited.

  • Low insolvency risk: the State is generally viewed as the best possible debtor. The ratings attributed by rating agencies also give investors an idea of the solvency of the issuing country. 
  • Very limited liquidity risk: the large volume of long-term public debt of most EMU members ensures good liquidity for sovereign bonds on the secondary market and greatly reduces counterparty risk.
  • Exchange risk for government loans denominated in foreign currencies. Exchange risk means that on redemption the investor may receive an amount in euros that is less than the initial euro investment. 
  • Interest-rate risk: the price of a government bond fluctuates in line with market conditions.


To achieve a higher return, an investor can diversify his sovereign bond portfolio by including bonds issued by governments outside the eurozone. He must then be aware of the fact that the risks to which he is exposed will also be higher, a higher yield generally going hand in hand with high volatility. To manage risk effectively, a private investor may resort to a bond fund, which provides him with broad diversification even with limited capital.

Primary market

When a new bond is issued, investors may subscribe to it on the primary market at a set price for a set period of time, the so-called “subscription period”.

In Belgium, the Treasury issues bons d'Etat/Staatsbons four times a year (in March, June, September and December).

Take a look at our primary market (pdf, FR) offering.


Secondary market

Government bonds are traded on the stock market. To purchase a bond after the subscription period has expired or to sell it before it matures, the investor must go through the secondary market. The price at which a bond can be purchased or sold is determined by the price at which the bond is quoted, which fluctuates constantly. It fluctuates on the basis of various factors, such as the residual maturity of the bond, the issuer's financial health, how soon the coupon will be paid, as well as the nominal value and money market rates. As a general rule, when money market rates rise, the prices of outstanding bonds have a tendency to fall, and vice versa.


List of bond issues open for subscription (FR)Information leaflet on financial instruments (pdf)Rates and charges for securities transactions (pdf)

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