Pay rise for health workers: The majority of workers in health care will receive a pay rise from 1 July. The rise covers those working in federal institutions, including hospitals and home care, as well as those under Flemish authority, including care homes.
VAT on packages: New rules on cross-border commerce comes into force in the EU, affecting all links in the chain, whether inside or outside of the Union. The existing exoneration of VAT on small packages worth up to €22 is scrapped, meaning all packages are subject to the tax. Sellers from outside the EU can register with one member state for the payment of VAT for sales anywhere inside the EU, including those sent from outside.
Covid PCR tests: The cost of a PCR test for Covid-19 will be capped at €55 instead of €70 at the moment. The antigen test will cost a maximum of €120.
Roaming out of EU: Proximus will allow its clients travelling outside the EU to pay only national-rate charges while roaming, on purchase of the Daily Roaming Pass. Calls, messages and internet connections will then be counted towards the customer’s contact quota, without being charged separately. For travel within the EU, roaming is already free without formalities.
Public transport: The Brussels public transport authority Stib/MIVB is to reduce the price of a season ticket for students to €12 instead of the €50 charged now. The passes are for children and young people aged 12 to 24, and families will only have to pay for the two eldest, while the rest are free.
The Brupass ticket, which also covers TEC, De Lijn and rail authority SNCB (within the Brussels region) goes down from €90 to €52. And all Brussels residents aged 18 to 24 will be able to obtain a €12 annual season ticket from February 2022, instead of paying €499.
Benefits go up: A number of benefits will be increased, including the lowest pensions, which will go up by 2% on top of the 11% rise over four years already agreed for all pensions. Pensions for invalidity and industrial illness go up by 2%, while pensions for invalids with family responsibilities go up by 2.5%. And the minimum benefit for short-term unemployed rises by 3.5%.
Migraine meds: Two treatments aimed at preventing migraine attacks will now be reimbursed by the medical insurance system, health minister Frank Vandenbroucke announced. The drugs are Ajovy (fremanezumab) and Emgality (galcanezumab). Last month the drug Aimovig (erenumab) was also approved for reimbursement for patients who suffer a minimum of eight days a month and who have tried three preventive treatments without success. The same conditions apply to Ajovy and Emgality.
Summer sales: The summer sales return to their traditional starting point, after being postponed for a month in 2020 because of coronavirus restrictions. Some restrictions do remain, such as mask-wearing and limits on the number of customers per square metre, but the sector is looking forward to a good sales season nonetheless.