Belgium, ALTIUS updates

Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by ALTIUS
Creation of loco-regional hospital networks exempt from merger control rules
  • Belgium
  • 20 May 2021

The new act of 29 March 2021 explicitly and generally exempts operations which create loco-regional hospital networks from the obligation to notify the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA). This new amendment might come as a surprise. It contradicts the BCA's July 2020 note, which reiterated that competition law rules concerning merger control fully apply to the creation of local hospital networks as required under the act of 28 February 2019.

Dawn raid's illegality does not automatically void subsequent request for information
  • Belgium
  • 21 January 2021

The Market Court of the Brussels Court of Appeal recently ruled in a case involving a Belgian telecoms operator, which had been ongoing for more than a decade. In this latest judgment, the Market Court ruled on the effects of a dawn raid's illegality and confirmed the two-step test for determining the same.

BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
  • Belgium
  • 14 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

First Belgian ruling on abuse of economic dependence
  • Belgium
  • 03 December 2020

In August 2020 a new act introducing a prohibition on the abuse of economic dependence entered into force in Belgium. In October 2020 the president of the Ghent Commercial Court has issued a judgment in the first abuse of economic dependence case in Belgium. As there is no equivalent prohibition in EU competition law, practitioners have been waiting for case law guidance on how to apply these conditions. However, it is questionable whether this first case provides such valuable guidance.

BCA updates its fining guidelines following entry into force of abuse of economic dependence concept
  • Belgium
  • 08 October 2020

After some last-minute delays, the Royal Decree of 31 July 2020 introduced the concept of abuse of economic dependence in Belgium. Following this royal decree, the Belgian Competition Authority has announced an update to its fining guidelines so that they apply to this new abuse.


Employment & Immigration

Contributed by ALTIUS
Dos and don'ts for employers regarding COVID-19 vaccination
  • Belgium
  • 21 April 2021

The government's vaccination campaign is now progressing well. Employers are eager to have a large number of their workers vaccinated to be able to work in a safe and healthy environment and resume business as usual. However, can employers force their workers to get vaccinated? Can they ask their workers to submit a vaccination certificate? Must they grant their workers paid leave of absence to get vaccinated? This Q&A answers these and other questions.

New monthly online COVID-19 telework registration obligation for employers from April 2021
  • Belgium
  • 14 April 2021

As many employers either have not been or have been insufficiently respecting compulsory teleworking, the government has enhanced the monitoring of compulsory teleworking by introducing a new online registration obligation for employers. From April 2021, every employer must submit a monthly declaration via the National Social Security Office's online portal by the sixth calendar day of each month.

Social inspection audits in construction sector: what to expect in 2021
  • Belgium
  • 31 March 2021

The Social Information and Investigation Service (SIOD/SIRS) recently published its 2021 action plan revealing its strategy and top priorities for the year. Similar to recent years, the construction sector remains a target. This article summarises what employers can expect in 2021 and how they can prepare, based on the SIOD/SIRS checklist.

ECJ partially upholds Belgium's docker rules
  • Belgium
  • 10 March 2021

In a long-awaited court ruling, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) confirmed that the Belgian rules on dock work, obliging companies to have only recognised dockers carry out dock work in ports, do not necessarily constitute a violation of the free movement of workers, the freedom of establishment and the freedom to provide services. However, the ECJ rejected several parts of the recognition procedure of such dockers. Legislative changes are now inevitable.

New National Labour Council collective labour agreement sets framework for COVID-19 teleworking
  • Belgium
  • 17 February 2021

Traditionally, Belgian labour law has distinguished between two forms of telework: structural and occasional telework. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a third category has been added: COVID-19 telework, which was previously recommended but has now been made compulsory again by the government. The National Labour Council has now concluded Collective Labour Agreement Number 149, which creates the legal framework for COVID-19 teleworking.


Healthcare & Life Sciences

Contributed by ALTIUS
Creation of loco-regional hospital networks exempt from merger control rules
  • Belgium
  • 19 May 2021

The new act of 29 March 2021 explicitly and generally exempts operations which create loco-regional hospital networks from the obligation to notify the Belgian Competition Authority (BCA). This new amendment might come as a surprise. It contradicts the BCA's July 2020 note, which reiterated that competition law rules concerning merger control fully apply to the creation of local hospital networks as required under the act of 28 February 2019.

Can Belgian companies use EU vaccine certificates?
  • Belgium
  • 05 May 2021

To fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU Commission is setting up a vaccine passport system (the so-called 'Digital Green Certificate') to enable European citizens to travel easily and safely within the European Union in Summer 2021. This article examines whether Belgian companies may also use these certificates for other purposes (eg, to authorise or prohibit access to private places depending on a citizen's vaccination status).

Must AstraZeneca supply the European Union with sufficient COVID-19 vaccines under Belgian law?
  • Belgium
  • 10 February 2021

AstraZeneca recently announced that it would reduce the supply of its COVID-19 vaccine to the European Union in the first quarter of 2021 to 31 million doses. Questions have therefore arisen as to what extent AstraZeneca is under a contractual obligation to supply the European Union with the initially planned 80 million doses, and what role its UK manufacturing sites should play in this regard. To answer these questions, this article examines the parties' rights and obligations under Belgian law.

BCA suspects Caudalie of imposing minimum resale prices on distributors and limiting active and passive online sales
  • Belgium
  • 20 January 2021

Following dawn raids carried out in 2018, the Belgian Competition Authority's Investigation and Prosecution Service has opened an investigation regarding alleged anti-competitive practices committed by Caudalie, a French cosmetics company specialising in vinotherapy, after a Belgian pharmacist complained that his supplier was imposing a pricing policy on him.

Which COVID-19 vaccines are on the menu for Belgium?
  • Belgium
  • 23 December 2020

Belgium is following the lead of the European Commission and the European Medicines Agency with respect to its COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The European Commission, on behalf of EU member states, has already concluded six advance purchase agreements with vaccine suppliers for a potential total of almost 2 billion doses. Belgium's share presently amounts to a total of 22.4 million vaccines. Purchasing is expected to begin in early January 2021.


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