Belgium makes conditions for uniting cross-border couples official

Belgium makes conditions for uniting cross-border couples official
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The Belgian authorities have defined what it means to be in a “sustainable relationship” for cross-border couples, as partners who meet the conditions will be allowed to travel to each other from September.

Following Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès’ announcement on Thursday that Belgium would open its borders to partners living in different countries from September, the conditions that couples need to meet have now been made official.

For the journey to be considered “essential” by the authorities, partners need to have lived together legally for one year without interruption in Belgium or abroad, or need to be in an “affectionate relationship” of at least two years.

This means that the partners have to know each other, and can prove that they have met each other three times in the past two years, for a total of at least 45 days. Additionally, having a child together is also considered proof of a lasting relationship.

Even though Hannah Maes (25) and her American girlfriend, who lives in New York, meet the government’s conditions to see each other again, she believes the rules are “ridiculous.”

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“The European Commission called for the concept of ‘partner’ to be defined as broadly as possible, and what Belgium has now done is clearly not that,” she told The Brussels Times.

“I do not understand why other countries can solve this with a simple declaration and showing evidence at the border, but we have to go through the embassies, which in practice will mean that it will certainly take until after 1 September before our partners can enter,” Maes added.

Additionally, the partner staying abroad must apply to the Belgian diplomatic post for a visa or proof of essential travel, and fill out the Passenger Locator Form 48 hours before arrival, go in quarantine for 14 days once in Belgium, and get tested.

Belgians wishing to travel to their partner outside the EU must take into account the measures in force in the country in question, which may differ from the Belgian measures.

Last Sunday, a group of some 50 people gathered in Brussels to protest the same conditions, which were not official yet at the time, calling them “arbitrary”, “old-fashioned” and “too strict.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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