The European Commission is taking the Belgian state to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg on the grounds that the country still has not brought in legislation to enact an EU directive from 2017 on money-laundering.
The directive was supposed to be enacted into Belgian law by June 2017, but that still has not been done fully, the Commission argues. In fact, none of the member states managed to meet the deadline, but the majority have done so since then.
The main problem for Belgium lies in the way that financial authorities exchange information with each other. Austria’s problem relates to betting and gambling legislation, while the Netherlands has failed to enact suitable rules on the ownership of corporate entities.
“We have robust EU rules in place but they must be applied consistently and efficiently,” said Commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, whose portfolio includes the fight against money-laundering.
“We will make sure that everyone in both private and public sectors applies the rules rigorously. We have launched many infringement procedures to ensure the full transposition and application of our rules,” he said.
As well as Belgium, the Commission is also taking Austria and the Netherlands to court over the same issue.
In the case of the three countries concerned, the Commission is seeking not only a ruling against the member states, but also financial sanctions.
According to a spokesperson for federal finance minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD), the government is ready to bring the law up to date with the directive before the summer recess, with a second reading of the bill next week, followed by a vote in the plenary before the recess.