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Is Belgium prepared for Brexit?

  • Belgium
  • Other

16-07-2019

1. Has Belgium enacted any specific legislation in preparation for Brexit?

Yes, Belgium has enacted specific legislation in preparation for Brexit.

  • Name of legislation

On 19 February 2019, the Belgian Federal Government submitted a legislative proposal to the Belgian Parliament proposing changes to a number of laws and regulations in Belgium in preparation for a potential no-deal Brexit. The Belgian Brexit Act was enacted by the Belgian Federal Parliament on 28 March 2019.

A Royal Decree was drafted by the Belgian Federal Government regarding the employment of UK nationals in Belgium, which would mainly regulate the situation for frontier workers and interns.

  • When was it enacted/what stage in legislative process is it at?

The Belgian Brexit Act was enacted by the Belgian Federal Parliament on 28 March 2019.

The draft Royal Decree is being revised by the legislation department of the Belgian Council of State (‘Raad van State’), after which they will provide the Belgian Federal Government with their advice. Thus, the text of the draft Royal Decree has not been approved yet.

1.3 When did the law come into force?

The Belgian Brexit Act was enacted by the Belgian Federal Parliament on 28 March 2019. However, a Royal Decree is still required to specify the date on which the Belgian Brexit Act comes into force (with the exception of chapter 2 of title 7, which provisions come into force on the date of the publication of the Belgian Brexit Act in the Belgian Official Gazette).

Please note that the Belgian Brexit Act will only enter into force in case of a no-deal Brexit. Moreover, it will only enter into force if the British authorities make the same arrangements for the Belgian inhabitants of the United Kingdom (principle of reciprocity).

1.4 For how long will the law be in force?

The Belgian Brexit Act determines that this legislation has a temporary nature and will in principle only be applicable until 31 December 2020.  It also specifies that some provisions can cease to apply/be terminated before 31 December 2020, depending on any treaties entered into by the United Kingdom with the European Commission and/or Belgium.

1.5 Does it give powers to enact secondary legislation?

Yes. The Belgian Brexit Act makes it possible to take necessary legislative action quickly by way of Royal Decree, instead of by primary legislation.

  1. What areas does the Belgian Brexit legislation deal with?

The Belgian Brexit Act only contains technical amendments to existing Belgian Federal legislation that are strictly necessary.

2.1 Agrifood

Not to date.

2.2 Air travel

Not to date.

The following webpage provides further information on the impact of Brexit on air travel, click here.

2.3 Customs

Not to date.

The following webpage provides further information on the impact of Brexit on customs, click here.

2.4 Energy

The Belgian Brexit Act amends the ‘Belgian Act of 12 April 1965 on the transport of gaseous and other products by pipeline’, to maintain Belgium's security of energy supply and security of supply, in case of no treaty being agreed between the United Kingdom and Belgium that would ensure establishing the regulatory framework on the independence of Interconnector Ltd. (UK) with regard to generation and supply interests.

2.5 Financial services

The Belgian Brexit Act amends the ‘Belgian Act of 25 October 2016 on access to investment services business and on the status and supervision of asset management and investment advice companies’. The Belgian Brexit Act authorises the Federal Government to issue (by Royal Decree) any necessary additional rules applicable to investment service companies that do not have their seat in a member state of the European Economic Area, to guarantee the protection of investment interests and to safeguard the proper functioning, integrity and transparency of the financial markets. The objective is to align the UK investment service business regime as a third country with the investment service business regime in a member state of the EU.

In case of a no-deal Brexit, the UK (and Gibraltar) will be considered a third country and UK financial services companies will no longer be entitled to the reciprocal recognition of their license in the EU (the so-called “European Passport”).

The Belgian Federal Government is also authorised to adopt (by Royal Decree) any additional rules regarding the exploitation in Belgium of a regulated market, an MTF (Multilateral Trading facility) or an OTF (Organised Trading Facility), based on an advice of the Financial Services and Markets Authority.

Furthermore, The Belgian Federal Government is also authorised to take any necessary measures to ensure the continuity of contracts made between UK financial services companies and Belgian individuals and companies prior to UK financial services companies losing recognition in Belgium, (based on an advice of the Financial Services and Markets Authority and the National Bank of Belgium). These measures may pertain to licenses, registrations, subscriptions, and any other form of consent of companies and persons that are active on the financial markets and who resort under the laws of the United Kingdom (or Gibraltar).

The Belgian Brexit Act also amends the ‘Belgian Insurance Act of 4 April 2014’, providing a specific statute for mandated insurance underwriters (as well as registration formalities).

2.6 Goods

Not to date.

2.7 Road and rail transport

Not to date.

The following webpage provides further information on the impact of Brexit on road and rail transport, click here.

2.8 UK nationals resident in Belgium

The Belgian Brexit Act amends the ‘Belgian Act of 15 December 1980 regarding the entry, residence, settlement and removal of aliens’, as to ensure that all UK nationals and their family members residing in Belgium will still be considered as legal inhabitants after a no-deal Brexit. In the event of a no-deal Brexit, a national transition scheme will take effect from the Brexit date to (in principle) 31 December 2020.

More specifically, UK nationals whom have exercised their right to freedom of movement and have obtained a residence permit, will keep their residence permit, but only temporarily (until 31 December 2020). If a residence application is still pending on the date of the Brexit, then it will be processed based on the conditions that were applicable before Brexit. For residence applications that are submitted after Brexit, the general rules regarding nationals of third countries will be applicable. For family members of a UK national who was already in possession of a residence permit or whose residence application is still pending on the Brexit date, their residence application, submitted after the Brexit date, will be processed based on the rules that were applicable before Brexit.

The renewal of residence permits is possible, but these documents will only remain valid until (in principle) 31 December 2020.

Also, the Belgian Brexit Act includes a national transition scheme regarding the coordination of social security systems, since a consequence of a no-deal Brexit will be that the regulation (EC) No 883/2004 on the coordination of social security systems will cease to apply to UK nationals, meaning these UK nationals would find themselves in a problematic legal and financial situation. The Belgian Brexit Act stipulates that Belgium will temporarily consider the UK as a member state of the EU, meaning the regulation (EC) No 883/2004 will still be applicable for all cash benefits that fall under the competence of the Belgian Federal Government.

  1. Has Belgium got a minister/ department for Brexit?

No, no special Brexit minister was appointed in Belgium.

Note that a Belgian Brexit High Level Group was founded by the Minister for Economic Affairs in order to draft reports, map the possible consequences of Brexit and help companies prepare for it.

  1. Has Belgium got a budget for supporting people/firms affected by Brexit?

Not to date.

  1. Where can the Brexit guidance given by the Governments of Belgium be found

Federal level

https://www.belgium.be/nl/brexit/

https://economie.fgov.be/nl/themas/ondernemingen/brexit https://business.gov.nl/brexit/

https://brexit-impact-scan.be/nl/#/welkom

Flanders

https://www.flandersinvestmentandtrade.com/export/internationaal/dossiers/brexit/

https://www.flandersintheuk.be/en/brexit

https://www.vlaanderen.be/economie-en-ondernemen/vragen-over-brexit

Wallonia

https://www.wallonie.be/fr/brexit

 

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