European Commission initiates legal action against Belgium
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    European Commission initiates legal action against Belgium

    © Belga

    The European Commission has initiated three legal actions against Belgium for not transposing a directive, failing to implement regulations, and not adapting its legislation to a European Court of Justice ruling, charges which, in some cases, come with heavy fines.

    In one action, the Commission is requesting over 2 million euros in fines because Belgium has still not transposed a 2014 directive to facilitate short-duration missions of highly skilled staff in European subsidiaries of non-EU multinationals, the European executive announced on Thursday.

    Such temporary intra-group transfers of strategic personnel – professionals, experts and paid interns – bring new skills and knowledge, innovations and increased economic prospects to European subsidiaries, according to the EU.

    The EU is asking for a minimum fine of 2 million euros and a daily penalty of 36,800 euros from the day the directive entered into effect to its transposition into Belgian law.

    It has also asked for similar penalties (a fine of 2 million euros and a daily penalty of 22,000 euros) because Belgium has not correctly implemented rules for calculating rental incomes following a ruling by the EU’s Court of Justice. This situation can lead to differences in taxation levels, discouraging Belgian residents from acquiring real estate abroad, the Commission argued.

    A third action targets Belgium for not correctly implementing EU rules governing electricity and gas markets. According to the Commission, the Belgian regulator still does not have the power to take binding decisions on electricity and gas companies and can only make proposals in this regard to the Government.

    Similarly, the conditions for connections to the electricity grid and gas network are set by the Government rather than the regulatory authority, as is required by EU law.

    Finally, Belgian law does not guarantee that transport network authorities effectively control the entire electricity or gas network for which they are responsible, so they are unable to fully ensure non-discriminatory access for electricity or gas suppliers to the network.

    The Commission has not set any fines or penalties for this case.

    Legal actions against other member countries of the EU for similar delays were also announced by the Commission on Thursday.

    Oscar Schneider

    The Brussels Times