With e-commerce growing at an unprecedented rate across the globe, in the past few years the Belgian legislature has taken several measures to make Belgium a more attractive hub for e-commerce activities. Among other things, such measures were meant to facilitate the introduction of night work schemes within companies. Some of these measures ended on 31 December 2019. What does this situation mean for companies and the night work schemes introduced in 2018 and 2019?
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the social partners have decided to suspend the current social election procedure and postpone its continuation until after the summer. This article outlines the most important consequences of this postponement for employers.
Due to the lockdown measures and other restrictions imposed by the government to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are dealing with revenue losses while having the same level of (fixed) costs. Royal Decree No 15, which recently entered into force, implements new temporary measures to protect businesses that had not ceased payment before or on 18 March 2020 but found themselves in difficulty afterwards due to the COVID-19 crisis. These measures will last until 17 May 2020, unless extended.
Parliament recently adopted a new act to increase the transparency of managed entry agreements (MEAs) concluded between pharmaceutical companies and the National Institute for Health and Disability Insurance. MEAs stipulate confidential compensation mechanisms for the government regarding the publicly listed price and reimbursement basis of the medicines concerned.
The government has adopted new socio-economic measures that aim to support the Belgian economy during the COVID-19 economic downturn. Most of the measures seek to encourage individuals to continue working and allow for more flexibility in the way that work can be carried out. This article provides an overview of the different measures that have been approved by the Council of Ministers.
The COVID-19 outbreak has created an urgent need for certain goods, including medicines and medical devices. However, do public authorities (eg, hospitals) still need to follow the complete public procurement procedures to procure these urgently needed goods? In cases of extreme urgency, such as that presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, contracting authorities can use the negotiated procedure without publication to place tenders.
The minister of economic affairs recently adopted a ministerial decree which restricts the retail and wholesale distribution of certain types of personal protective equipment and medical devices used for treating COVID-19 patients. Further amendments were implemented by ministerial decrees on 27 March 2020 and 7 April 2020. This article provides a short description of the relevant trade restrictions followed by a legal analysis in light of fundamental principles of EU law.
Until recently, when considering implementing a temporary unemployment regime within a company, employers could, depending on their specific situation, apply for the temporary unemployment regime based on either 'force majeure' or 'economic reasons'. The government has implemented a temporary COVID-19 unemployment regime whereby if an employer is faced with temporary unemployment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this situation is automatically considered to be force majeure.
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the fact that an EU common policy in the healthcare sector is virtually non-existent, especially in respect of medicinal product pricing and reimbursement. This article illustrates the need for national pricing authorities to consider that their policies could have unintended consequences and cross-border effects. Otherwise, national measures risk backfiring, as seems to have happened with the Belgian authorities' most recent attempt at further reducing medicinal product prices.
The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products recently adopted a consolidated version of its decision to take a series of urgent measures for certain listed medicines (and raw materials) to avoid medicine shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures apply until the end of April 2020 but may be renewed on a monthly basis. This article discusses the measures and their legality under EU law in more detail.
The Data Protection Authority (DPA) has approved a draft act that would prohibit life and health insurers from processing data from policyholders' health trackers. Notably, data from health trackers and apps can still be used for any other insurance that does not qualify as life or health insurance. However, in its advice, the DPA appears to acknowledge that all data coming from health trackers and lifestyle-related apps is likely to be considered health data.
A new act amending various legal provisions concerning shortages of medicinal products was recently published in the Official Gazette. Arguably, the new legislation does not prevent pharmaceutical companies from applying quotas, provided that they do not affect the public service obligation of wholesaler-distributors (also known as 'full-line wholesalers'). In addition, the act arguably imposes no general obligation on pharmaceutical companies to supply retail pharmacies directly.
A Supreme Court judgment has clarified that new financing during reorganisation proceedings in principle results in new claims, leading to a privileged status of such claims in the framework of any subsequent liquidation. Further, it confirms that the courts require financing to be actual and new (ie, mere refinancing is insufficient).
The legal form of the actio pauliana offers options for creditors which are confronted with debtors that are disposing of important assets or organising their insolvency. This article reflects on some of the options offered under Belgian law by the actio pauliana, commonly referred to in English as the 'clawback' rules.
The Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products recently issued a circular letter reminding the different actors in the Belgian healthcare sector that incentives in the course of public procurement procedures should be considered carefully. Further, the circular letter underlined the risk of contravening the ban on receiving gifts, monetary advantages or benefits and public procurement rules.
A number of legislative changes to Book XX of the Code of Economic Law may be required following the adoption of EU Directive 2019/1023/EU on preventive restructuring frameworks. This article focuses on the directive's potential effect on Book XX with regard to debtors in possession, the duration of moratoria, the suspension of enforcement during moratoria, the suspension and termination of ongoing contracts, the cramdown of creditors and the acceptance of reorganisation plans.
The European Court of Justice recently confirmed that the Belgian reorganisation framework infringes the EU Transfer of Undertakings Directive with regard to the transfer of personnel. This judgment looks set to have a significant impact on reorganisation proceedings, with parties more likely to be reluctant to organise a transfer of assets leading to bankruptcies and redundancies.
In an insolvency situation, the fate of ongoing contracts is something to be discussed. Such contracts are often closely linked to the essence of a company's business. For example, for (commercial) leases, a lessor's bankruptcy or a tenant's judicial reorganisation will probably result in discussions about the agreement, its (forced) execution and rental payments. If a company's activities are based on patent or software licences, the effect on these agreements will also be of crucial importance.
The European Court of Justice appears likely to rule that the Belgian reorganisation framework infringes the EU Transfer of Undertakings Directive with regard to the transfer of personnel. If the option to transfer only a portion of staff is no longer available in Belgian reorganisation proceedings, companies will have no choice but to formally file for bankruptcy, which is exactly the issue that the legislature and the labour unions had hoped to avoid when introducing this mechanism into Belgian law.
A legislative package aimed at fighting falsified medicines will enter into force in the European Union in early 2019. This EU legal framework was transposed into Belgian law through the Medicines Act and the Royal Decree concerning Medicines for Human and Veterinary Use. As a result, pharmaceutical companies will be required to affix a so-called 'anti-tampering device' on all prescription medicinal products to allow verification of whether the packaging has been tampered with.