Belgium updates

Aviation

Legislation on passenger name records amended
  • Belgium
  • 06 February 2019

The Council of Ministers recently approved preliminary draft legislation amending the Passenger Data Processing Act. Among other things, the proposed changes concern the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data, data exchanges and the cross-checking of passenger data following the identification of suspicious passengers. The changes aim to bring the act into line with the EU General Data Protection Regulation.


Competition & Antitrust

Contributed by ALTIUS
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.

New act reforms Competition Authority
  • Belgium
  • 06 June 2013

The new Competition Act was recently adopted, which will be included in the new Code of Economic Law. The new act does not affect the substantive law on anti-competitive agreements, abuse of dominant position and merger control; rather, it completely restructures the Competition Authority and introduces a number of important procedural reforms with the aim of increasing the authority's efficiency.


Employment & Immigration

Contributed by ALTIUS
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.

Share-related benefits granted by foreign parent companies: Esko strengthens view that social security contributions are due
  • Belgium
  • 15 July 2020

Benefits in general – and shares and restricted stock units in particular – attributed by a third party (eg, a foreign parent company) to employees of a Belgian (group) company will, in principle, be subject to Belgian social security contributions. If followed, the Ghent Labour Court of Appeal's recent decision in Esko will make it even harder, if not impossible, for international groups to avoid the payment of social security contributions.

Reopening your workplace after lockdown: 10 key questions
  • Belgium
  • 08 July 2020

With the exit from lockdown in full swing, many companies are recalling their staff to the workplace. This article answers 10 FAQs that employers, business managers and HR specialists must consider during their employees' return to work, including what are employers' health and safety obligations, must employers consult staff or employee representatives on their health and safety measures and do fines or penalties for non-compliance exist?

No retroactive suspension of notice period due to COVID-19 temporary unemployment
  • Belgium
  • 24 June 2020

Until now, there has been no suspension of the notice period served on employees who have been made temporarily unemployed under the specific 'COVID-19 regime'. As employers could dismiss employees 'cheaply', a draft bill to suspend the notice period in the event of COVID-19 temporary unemployment was submitted in Parliament. The Chamber of Representatives has now voted to introduce the law without retroactive effect. But what does this mean for 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.

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.

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.

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.


Insolvency & Restructuring

Contributed by ALTIUS
Government measures to assist companies during COVID-19 pandemic – interview
  • Belgium
  • 12 June 2020

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. In this video, Bart Heynickx, counsel at ALTIUS, discusses various insolvency issues that are arising in Belgium as a result of COVID-19.

Is my business automatically protected against creditors during COVID-19 crisis?
  • Belgium
  • 08 May 2020

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.

Limits to privileged claims
  • Belgium
  • 28 February 2020

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).

Clawback: chasing assets
  • Belgium
  • 13 December 2019

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.

Effect of EU preventive restructuring directive on Belgian insolvency framework
  • Belgium
  • 18 October 2019

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.