Belgium, ALTIUS updates

Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by ALTIUS
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.

BCA and civil courts rule on interim measure requests in football industry
  • Belgium
  • 10 September 2020

As in many other European countries, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Pro League – the Belgian professional football league – to set up an alternative arrangement for the end of the disrupted 2019-2020 football season. Subsequently, football clubs have challenged such decisions to prevent relegation or promotion. In this context, the Belgian Competition Authority and the civil courts recently had to rule on different interim measure requests in the football sector relating to competition law.

Advocate general issues opinion on SABAM's tariffs for festivals
  • Belgium
  • 03 September 2020

Against the backdrop of the legal dispute between festival and concert organisers versus SABAM (the Belgian music authors' collecting society) regarding SABAM's tariffs for festivals and concerts being taken to the European level, in two parallel legal proceedings, one pending before the Brussels Court of Appeal and the other before the Antwerp Enterprise Court, the European Commission and the Court of Justice of the European Union have been asked to shine a light on SABAM's tariffs.

New prohibition on abuses of economic dependence enters into force
  • Belgium
  • 27 August 2020

The prohibition on the abuse of economic dependence to protect undertakings that are economically dependent on their suppliers or buyers recently entered into force. Thus, Belgium has followed the example of other EU member states by making use of the option offered by Article 3(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union to prohibit and penalise unilateral conduct by companies even in the absence of a dominant position.

BCA confirms that merger control rules apply to creation of loco-regional hospital networks
  • Belgium
  • 20 August 2020

The Belgian Competition Authority's (BCA's) latest note reiterates 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. Although hospitals seem largely unaware of the obligations under the merger control rules attached to such forms of cooperation, they should consider that the BCA is paying more attention to the sector and that significant penalties may be incurred for non-compliance.


Employment & Immigration

Contributed by ALTIUS
New teleworking rules to limit further spread of COVID-19
  • Belgium
  • 28 October 2020

The government recently reinforced the urgent measures to limit the further spread of COVID-19. Teleworking is no longer highly recommended, but has become the standard for all employees whose roles allow for telework. Yet, the new rule is less far-reaching than that in place during the first lockdown, as an exception now applies when the continuity of business operations, activities and services does not allow for teleworking.

Last call to implement electronic voting or voting by letter for COVID-19-proof social elections
  • Belgium
  • 21 October 2020

In principle, companies should have decided whether to vote electronically in the social elections as early as February 2020. However, companies that did not do so but, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, would like to do so now have been given the opportunity to introduce electronic voting. However, they must reach an agreement on this issue by Day X+56 (ie, between 13 October 2020 and 26 October 2020, depending on the new election date).

COVID-19: new record-keeping obligation and compliance check relating to foreign workers and self-employed individuals
  • Belgium
  • 30 September 2020

As part of some new measures that aim to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the government has imposed a new record-keeping obligation on certain employers and users which temporarily rely on foreign employees or self-employed individuals. In-scope employers and users must also verify whether the foreign employees and self-employed individuals have duly completed the passenger locator form.

New rules on temporary unemployment from 1 September 2020: start preparing now
  • Belgium
  • 19 August 2020

From 1 September 2020, new rules on temporary unemployment will enter into force. Companies and sectors that are substantially affected by the COVID-19 crisis can continue to apply the current and simplified COVID-19 force majeure temporary unemployment regime until 31 December 2020. For sectors and companies that are not substantially affected by the COVID-19 crisis, the current COVID-19 force majeure regime can no longer be applied from 1 September 2020.

EU Posted Workers Directive: impact on employers posting workers to Belgium
  • Belgium
  • 29 July 2020

The Act of 12 June 2020 implemented the EU Posted Workers Directive in Belgium by introducing, among other things, adjustments to the Act of 5 March 2002 Relating to Labour, Salary and Employment Conditions When Posting Workers to Belgium. This article summarises the key changes introduced by the act and its impact on employers.


Healthcare & Life Sciences

Contributed by ALTIUS
BCA confirms that merger control rules apply to creation of loco-regional hospital networks
  • Belgium
  • 12 August 2020

The Belgian Competition Authority's (BCA's) latest note reiterates 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. Although hospitals seem largely unaware of the obligations under the merger control rules attached to such forms of cooperation, they should consider that the BCA is paying more attention to the sector and that significant penalties may be incurred for non-compliance.

Parliament adopts act increasing transparency of managed entry agreements
  • Belgium
  • 06 May 2020

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.

Medical supplies: public procurement procedures in cases of extreme urgency
  • Belgium
  • 29 April 2020

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.

Federal government restricts sale of PPE and medical devices for fighting COVID-19
  • Belgium
  • 29 April 2020

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.

Medicinal product reimbursement during pandemics and budgetary constraints: why quick fixes don't work
  • Belgium
  • 22 April 2020

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.


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