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    What changes on 1 December in Belgium?

    As the month of December begins – and Europe moves into a festive period – some more logistical changes will come into place in Belgium.

    Changes to the way cent coins will be handled in shops, new rules concerning car lights and a former Belgian Prime Minister ready to take up his duties as President of the European Council. 

    Here are some of the things that will change:

    Complete cash payments

    As of 1 December, retailers in Belgium will be obliged to round final totals to the nearest 5 cents in the case of cash payments, removing the need for 1 and 2 cent coins in daily transactions.

    This change in law only applies to customers physically present in a store and not online shopping. What this means, for instance, is that a €4.99 transaction will automatically be €5 from 1 December.

    So how will it work?

    1 and 2 cents will be lowered to 0 cents

    3 and 4 cents will be increased to 5 cents

    6 and 7 cents will be lowered to 5 cents

    8 and 9 cents will be increased to 10 cents

    When paying by card, merchants are free to choose whether or not to round off payments, but must always inform the client.

    Stricter checks on car lights

    Various defects in car lights that have previously lead to a green inspection certificate – with a remark and an expectation to get them fixed – will result in fails as of 1 December.

    Cars will no longer pass if the indicator of the main beam headlights on the dashboard is not working, the fog lamp circuit is not working, the licence plate lights are not properly attached and the hazard warning lights do not function properly.

    Additionally, there will be stricter monitoring of car indicators, both for hazard warning and direction. If defects are found there, a green inspection certificate with a remark will still be issued. The defects must then be repaired as soon as possible, but without re-inspection.

    The stricter rules result from the transposition of a European Directive and are expected to contribute towards improved road safety. 

    Charles Michel gets a new job

    Former Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel will take up his duties as President of the European Council on Sunday 1 December. Michel is the second Belgian to call himself the European ‘president’, following Herman Van Rompuy, who held the position between 2009 and 2014. 

    Michel’s mandate lasts 2.5 years and can be extended once. The former Belgian prime minister will take over the role from Poland’s Donald Tusk. On Friday, the symbolic power transfer between Tusk and Michel takes place at the Council headquarters, in the Rue de la Loi in Brussels.

    The European Council outlines the main lines of EU policy and, in principle, meets four times a year. However, the various crises of recent years (the euro crisis, grexit, brexit …) have shown that the number of summits can be many times higher.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times