The Chamber’s Trade Law Commission has approved Wednesday, after the second reading, the project aiming at reforming corporate law. This lengthy text designs to modernize the Trade Code so that it now rests on the notion of enterprise, rather than on that of trade. As for the opposition, fears have been expressed concerning non-profit associations (ASBL), which would be included in this notion of enterprise.
A petition has been launched on the Internet, calling not to vote this reform because it would increase the taxes supported by the associative sector. The cdH and PS opposition have relayed these grievances, targeting the obligation to have an enterprise identification number, the competency granted to the company register court (trade court), or evidentiary trade rules (an undisputed invoice is considered as accepted).
Out of the 130,000 ASBLs in Belgium, 100,000 have no employees and are very small structures that will be facing new taxes, deplored the centrists. “Instead of the 17,000 words in the 1921 law on ASBL, they will now have to find their way in a 340,000 words legislation,” underlined Michel de Lamotte.
The socialists used the same tone. “Our associative tissue depends for a large part on volunteerism. We are taking the risk of asphyxiating it,” warned Ahmed Laaouej, who deplored the “salami slicing” of reforms in this area and expressed his fear over the forthcoming reform on the Company Code.
The Minister of Justice Koen Geens swept away criticism. The ASBL are already submitted to a company registration and the transfer to the Commercial Court is more of an advantage for them, he explained. “The increasing complexity you are talking to me about is nonexistent,” he added. The majority voted in favor of the reform, the PS, the sp.a and the cdH voted against.