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In June 2022, the governments of Belgium’s nine federated entities agreed on the text of a cooperation agreement implementing a screening mechanism of general application for foreign direct investments into Belgium. The screening mechanism is expected to enter into force on 1 January 2023. The Cooperation Agreement is inspired by EU Regulation 2019/452 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 19 March 2019 establishing a general framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the Union. Belgium is now set to become the 19th EU Member State with a screening mechanism for foreign direct investments.

Through the EU Directive on Restructuring and Insolvency of 20 June 2019 (EUR 2019/1023, “Directive”), the European Union has imposed an obligation on its member states to offer a more attractive and flexible restructuring scheme in their respective local law. The initial deadline to do so had been 17 July 2021. Only a handful of countries (most notably Germany and The Netherlands) had implemented the Directive within the initial deadline, whilst the other countries made use of the possibility to ask for a one year extension.

On 23 February 2022, the Belgian Royal Decree of 8 February 2022 on the status and supervision of service providers for the exchange of virtual currency and fiat currency and custodian wallet providers (“Virtual Currency Royal Decree”) was published in the Belgian State Gazette. The Virtual Currency Royal Decree introduces registration requirements and operating conditions for virtual currency service providers into Belgian law. The Virtual Currency Royal Decree will enter into force on 1 May 2022, with a grandfathering regime for existing service providers.

Last year, Belgium introduced DAC 7 “light” reporting obligations for digital platform operators in the sharing and gig economy in anticipation of the implementation of the EU DAC 7. The legal provision that implemented the DAC 7 “light” reporting obligations remained vague however and left open quite some questions in practice with further implementation measures that needed to be taken. The Belgian tax authorities published a FAQ on Monday 14 January 2022. the FAQ clarifies the legislation and provides for the necessary implementation measures in view of the first reporting deadline, which is 31 March 2022.

In March 2021, the EU approved new reporting rules in a directive known as DAC7. The directive will require the operators of online platforms for the sale of goods and certain services, to collect, verify and share data on their sellers and their transactions concluded on the online platform. EU member states have until 31 December 2022 to implement DAC7 into national law. Certain platform operators will become a reporting platform and will need to start collecting and verifying data points in compliance with the DAC7 reporting requirements. The collected data points must be reported to the tax authorities of the relevant EU member state annually.

Following a new bill, the Belgian tax authorities have the right to request taxpayers who keep their books and records digitally to submit them through a secured online platform. This new provision lowers the barrier for the Belgian tax authorities to perform a tax audit and could thus possibly increase the number of tax audits in the future. This would also result in a substantial increase of digital data available to the Belgian tax authorities, which allows datamining in relation to the information submitted and therefore more efficient tax audits.

A series of briefings that take a “bite-size” look at international trends in different jurisdictions, drawing on Baker McKenzie’s expert financial services practitioners.

On 13 July 2021, the EU Council of Ministers approved the national recovery and resilience plans (RRPs) of 12 Member States. This means that Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia and Spain are now able to tap into the EU recovery and resilience funding. This will allow them to start spending the money on projects and reforms for national economic recovery and resilience, as well as the green transition and digital transformation.