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3 Mar 2020 11:35 AM | Tim Reynolds

The Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has established a website on the #COVID19 virus that is available in English as well as Flemish, French and German.

Contact us if you want the BBCA to post a News Story or an Event that is strongly linked to the British Community in Brussels.  We reserve the right to select items for publication and to edit items as required for style and space.

Email    BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com


News and Events -----------

  • 17 May 2022 12:52 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The Expat Welcome Desk is back to face-to-face seminars and is pleased to invite you to a seminar (in English) commencing at noon on 24 May 2022 focusing on several aspects of international occupation in Belgium for EU and non EU workers including immigration, social security, income tax and labour law.


    The speaker will be Mr Marc Mostin, an employment lawyer at the Athena Law firm. And the session will be moderated by Amélie BOVY, Senior legal advisor with the Expat Welcome Desk.

    The issues Marc will cover are:

    • Temporary secondment
    • Multi-country activities
    • Residence and work authorisation
    • Applicable social security legislation
    • Determination of the tax residence
    • Belgian tax regime
    • Labour law aspects

    To register for this event please send an email to inscription@commissioner.brussels before Friday 20 May at 16h00. Please be advised that places are limited!

    The venue is 63 Avenue d’Auderghem, 1040 Etterbeek, at the Office of the Brussels Commissioner for Europe and International Organisations (CEIO) and the programme is outline below .

    • 11.45: Welcome
    • 12.00: Presentation
    • 13.30: Q&A
    • 13.45: Sandwiches & Networking

    The Expat Welcome Desk (EWD) organises seminars on specific themes for target audiences. If you would like to be informed about seminars organised by the EWD throughout the year, you can subscribe by sending an e-mail mentioning “Registration for future seminars” to seminars@commissioner.brussels.

  • 16 May 2022 11:19 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Fans of Charlotte Bronte are in for a treat on Saturday 11 June. An Evening with Charlotte Bronte will be performed in the beautiful surroundings of the magnificent medieval castle of Corroy-le-Château, (near Gembloux - picture below). The evening will tell the story of this famous British author who also spent time in Brussels.


    Doors open at 18h15 and the performance will start at 19h00. Before the show you can enjoy some ‘bubbles’ in the courtyard before adjourning inside for the performance.

    An Evening with Charlotte Brontë has been devised and directed by Tracie Ryan and the producer is Catriona White.

    Tickets for the performance are 25 euros and early booking is recommended as space is limited!

    After the performance there will be an optional buffet organised by Les Amis du Château de Corroy a.s.b.l. (including wine and water). Tickets for the buffet cost: 30 euros.

    To reserve your tickets for the performance and buffet (For the buffet this must be done by 9 June) either call 081/ 63 32 32 or e-mail: hamal.trazegnies@skynet.be. Payment in advance is to IBAN account BE13 7326 2325 2939 (Amis de Corroy, 5032 Corroy-le-Château) and please mention ‘Brontës 11 June’ on the transfer together with the number of tickets required and the number of buffets required.

    All profits from the event will go to Les Amis du Château de Corroy a.s.b.l. to help with renovation works to the château.

    Find out more about Corroy-le-Château here.

  • 29 Apr 2022 4:32 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    On the evening of Tuesday 26 April 2022, a Spring Reception for the British Community was held at the British Residence in Brussels hosted by the UK ambassador Martin Shearman and organised by the BBCA.


    This was the first event when the community could really get together since the pandemic struck and the evening was a  great success. We achieved our goal of bringing the British Community together again and raising money for a very good cause!


    During the evening a cash raffle was held with some great prizes, including Pommery Champagne, Belgian Sparkling Wine and a hamper from Stonemanor, with all proceeds to be donated to the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. In total €1,140 was raised in support of displaced Ukrainian people on the night.


    More pictures from the event can be viewed here.

    We hope to be organising more community events during 2022. In particular two dates for your diary:

    Tuesday 24 May - BBCA 2022 Annual General Meeting at The Brussels Womens Club in Woluwe St Pierre (BBCA members only))

    Saturday 25 June - BBCA 2022 Summer Fete at the Royal Brussels Cricket Club in Lasne (Open to all)

  • 20 Apr 2022 3:17 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The Brussels-based law firm Cabinet David is continuing its popular series of free early evening webinars on Tax and Estate Planning commencing this Thursday evening (21 April 2022). Details of the events are given below. Prior registration is required, which you find by following the link for each specific event.


    The 2022 webinars are grouped around a number of themes.

    TEP-talks for EU Officials

    Many EU officials do not understand their very specific taxation regime :

    21 April @18.00: EU officials: an introduction to taxes

    26 May @18.00: Estate planning for EU officials

    About filing a tax return

    To complement the Bulletin’s guide to the tax return :

    19 May @18:00: Filing a tax return in Belgium, a doddle?

    About divorcing in Belgium … and a bit about taxes too

    Even expats marry and divorce in Belgium.

    16 June @18:00: International Divorce, and taxes

    Trusts, Trust Deeds, … in Belgium ? … Definitely not?

    You may have a SIPP in a trust, a Will with a trust, life insurance in a trust … but Belgium does not have trusts.

    23 June @18:00 : I have a trust – and now?

    Retirement Planning for Expatriates in Belgium

    Retirement is forever. So you had better prepare for it. Let us help:

    30 June @18:00: Retirement Planning for Expatriates in Belgium

    Our series on Estate Planning for Expatriates

    15 September @18.00: Estate Planning for Dummies

    22 September @18.00: Estate Planning with Wills

    20 October @18.00: Estate Planning with Gifts

    You can always find details of these Tax and Estate Planning talks here: www.taxation.be/events.

  • 15 Mar 2022 3:20 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    With the war in Ukraine continuing many of us are seeking to help those displaced by the conflict. But what to do? Below we list some ways in which you can help the victims of the war; both those coming to Belgium and those remaining closer to and within Ukraine.


    The list is non-exhaustive and if you are aware of other local initiatives please let us know and we can add them to this article.

    Belgian response

    The Belgian Federal Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (FEDASIL) has a page dedicated to the Reception of Ukrainian nationals here. This tells you what is happening in terms of official strategy for those Ukrainians coming to Belgium.

    Federal authorities have also opened a call centre that can be contacted daily from 9h00 to 17h00 via 02 488 8888.

    Brussels response (update 4 April 2022)

    The Brussels-Capital Region has launched an information website related to the Ukrainian crisis, including details on how refugees can find housing, transportation, employment, schools for their children and resources related to health services.

    Set up by Brussels Prevention and Security (BPS), it is intended to serve as a communication and information platform that brings together “all the forces at work” in Brussels regarding the ongoing conflict.

    Room in Belgium

    If you have a free room to accommodate Ukrainian refugees then you can register via the Give a Day platform.

    This site is associated with federal assistance. Some other sites offering accommodation to refugees are listed below

    Material aid

    If you would like to provide material assistance to Ukrainians, there are a number of options.

    Many collections are being organised via NGOs or private individuals (see below). The Ukrainian Embassy in Uccle no longer has room to store all the donations brought to it. However, Brussels Expo has made Hall 11 available as a storage location. People who wish to make donations can do so daily from 8h00 to 18h00 at the Heysel site.

    Here is a non-exhaustive list of what you can bring:

    • Materials for newborns such as Bottles, Wipes, nappy cream, powdered milk and infants etc
    • Canned food (stew, fish, canned fruit and veg etc)
    • Flashlights, Candles, matches
    • Boots for men (size > 41)
    • Thermal blankets, Gloves, Backpack
    • First aid kits, Splints
    • Yoga/camping mat, Tents

    For medical equipment, see the list on the Ukrainian Embassy Facebook page.

    Financial aid

    If you would like to provide financial assistance for humanitarian aid in Ukraine. What are the best options?

    The Consortium for Emergencies, 12-12, has appealed for cash donations. The Consortium will redistribute the amount collected to various organisations so that they can carry out their work in Ukraine and in the neighbouring countries which host the refugees.

    The Belgian Red Cross is collecting funds to buy food, water and medicine on site in Ukraine and the neighbouring region. Contributions can be paid via their website or direct to their Bank Account BE53 0000 0000 5353, with the reference "Ukraine".

    Médecins sans frontières is providing emergency aid in Ukraine and neighbouring countries. Contributions can be paid online or direct to to account BE73 0000 0000 6060, with the mention "INT". 

    Food for refugees

    Holy Trinity Church Brussels. Holy Trinity’s Community Kitchen is providing meals for thousands of refugees. Financial support can be given via The Community Kitchen @HTB ASBL Gift Account IBAN BE92 3631 1846 4423, BIC code: BBRUBEBB.

    In addition donations of biscuits or muffins and warm clothes and shoes are welcome.

    Other sources of shelter and assistance

    In addition to registering via the Giveaday site above, there are a number of sites that NGOs are directing people to so that they can list their offers of shelter.

    MapaHelp is essentially a mapping site indicating help points to Ukrainians who need it. It is a pan-European initiative. 

    Ukrainian Scouts in Belgium has opportunities to help in addition to providing housing.

    Shelter for UA is another mapping site with a mission to connect people who need help due to the war in Ukraine and those who are ready to provide it. 

    UkraineNOW is helping Ukrainians who crossed the border with offers of accommodation.

    Full Circle is focusing on collecting toiletries and sanitary products for women. They accept donations in their original, sealed packaging only and you can also offer financial support.

  • 4 Mar 2022 9:33 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    From 7 March, Belgium’s corona barometer is changing to code yellow. The Covid Safe Ticket will disappear in the Hotel and Catering sector, as will restrictions imposed on events. It will also be the end of the epidemic emergency and the federal phase of the national emergency plan launched two years ago.


    The Belgian Consultation Committee considers that infections and the number of new hospitalisations are now on a constant downward trend and the reproduction rate of infections remains consistently below 1, indicating significantly lower circulation of the virus.

    The details for 7 March and beyond are outlined below.

    Masks still recommended but compulsory only in healthcare establishments and on public transport

    • Wearing a mask is still recommended, among other things in indoor spaces, in the event of exceptional crowds and in places where social distancing of 1.5 meters cannot be guaranteed.
    • The use of an FFP2 mask is still recommended for vulnerable people.
    • From Monday 7 March 2022, wearing a mask will no longer be compulsory in education.
    • The mask remains compulsory from the age of twelve in healthcare establishments such as hospitals and nursing homes, and in public transport.

    Covid Safe Ticket

    • The use of the Covid Safe Ticket, in particular in the Hotel and Catering sector and during events is ended.

    New travel rules from 11 March

    • The general requirement to complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) is waived. The PLF is only mandatory for people traveling to Belgium with a carrier from a third country that is not on the European Union whitelist.
    • People who travel to Belgium and have one of the three COVID certificates (vaccination, test or recovery) are not subject to any test or quarantine obligation.
    • People who reside in Belgium, do not have any of the three COVID certificates (vaccination, test or recovery) and travel from a country whose situation is unfavourable, must be tested on the first day of their arrival (rapid antigen test or PCR test ). Countries with an unfavourable situation include countries in dark red on the ECDC map and third countries that are not on the European Union's whitelist.
    • People who do not reside in Belgium must be in possession of a valid COVID certificate (vaccination, test or recovery) when entering Belgium, except for short stays of less than 48 hours.
    • For people coming from countries or regions with a new variant of concern, the current screening and quarantine rules remain unchanged.
    • A ban on entry into the territory is maintained for non-essential travel by non-EU citizens residing in a third country that is not on the European Union's whitelist, unless they have a certificate vaccination or recovery.
    • The ban on entry to the territory is maintained for travellers from countries or regions presenting a new variant of concern (zone at very high risk of VOC).

    Telework

    • The Consultation Committee invites companies and public services, in consultation with their social partners, to establish a structural system for telework.

    Monitoring of the medical situation

    The Consultation Committee continues to monitor the epidemiological situation. It will consider five levers that the World Health Organisation foresees to counter a possible resurgence of Covid:

    1. Preserve the capacity of genome sequencing to rapidly detect new variants

    2. Continue to focus on primary vaccination of unaffected and vulnerable groups, as high vaccination coverage remains the main protection against new variants

    3. Make antiviral treatments available and affordable, in addition to vaccination

    4. Promote air quality through ventilation and filtration

    5. Promote international solidarity in the donation and production of vaccines to reduce the risk of emergence of new variants of the virus.

    More information here: https://centredecrise.be/fr/newsroom/code-jaune-partir-du-lundi-7-mars

  • 12 Feb 2022 12:01 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    From 18 February, Belgium’s Corona barometer moves from code red to orange. The decision was made by the Consultative Committee on Friday 11 February. This will mean that the early closing time for the catering industry will disappear and nightlife can open up again. All indoor and outdoor public events will also now be allowed. In addition, teleworking will no longer be mandatory, but will still be the recommended mode of working if possible.


    The Consultation Committee considers that Belgium has now reached the peak of the omicron wave with the number of new infections decreasing over the past two weeks and the reproduction number for infections and hospitalisations now below 1.

    The detailed consequences for the switch to code orange from Friday 18 February are outlined below.

    Catering sector

    The early closing mandate is removed and also the restriction on the number of people per table and the requirement to eat and drink only while seated. Back to the bar! However, facemasks remain mandatory for staff. The nightlife sector may reopen at 70% capacity.

    Events

    All indoor and outdoor public events will now be allowed.

    Facemasks should be worn in:

    • Non-dynamic indoor activities for all participants and staff.
    • During dynamic indoor and outdoor activities, only by staff.

    The CST is mandatory for all indoor activities when the number of participants is 50 or more and for outdoor activities from 100 participants.

    A capacity of 200 people is now always allowed, but may be increased to:

    • 70% for dynamic indoor activities
    • 80% in non-dynamic indoor activities and all outdoor activities
    • 100% when air quality can be maintained at or below an average target value of 900 ppm CO2 for indoor activities
    • 100% for outdoor activities if sections of the audience are at a maximum of 2000 people or less or if additional crowd control measures are taken after positive advice from local safety authorities.

    Marriages and funerals ceremonies remain allowed as at present.

    Organised leisure activities

    There is no longer a maximum capacity for organised outdoor leisure activities, and a maximum capacity of 200 people for organised indoor leisure activities. This maximum number does not apply to sports activities, with the exception of sports camps.

    Ventilation

    The Consultation Committee underlined the importance of good ventilation of indoor spaces. When a value of 1500 ppm CO2 or a flow rate of 18m3 ventilation per person or 18m3 air purification per hour per person is reached, the capacity must be restricted or other measures must be taken.

    Teleworking

    The obligation to telework is lifted. However, teleworking is still recommended, whenever possible.

    Shopping

    There are no longer any restrictions on shopping. The early closing time for night shops is cancelled.

    Facemask obligation

    The facemask obligation applies from 19 February from the age of 12.

    Travel rules

    The colour code of the country of origin will no longer taken into account for incoming travellers. Persons who do not have their main residence in Belgium and who travel to our country from EU/Schengen countries or third countries, must from now on have a valid vaccination, test or recovery certificate.

    However, the rules for very high-risk zones and essential and non-essential travel continue to apply, as do the 48-hour rule and the exceptions for categories such as carriers and frontier workers.

    In line with the European Council Recommendation 2022/107 and the evolution of the worldwide distribution of omicron, the Consultation Committee decided to adapt the certificates as follows:

    • The vaccination certificate is valid for 270 days with a basic vaccination and unlimited with a booster vaccination.
    • The test certificate will be valid for 24 hours for a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). Note: only RATs approved at European level are eligible. PCR tests are valid for 72 hours.

    The Consultation Committee is asking the Ministers of Health to simplify the testing and quarantine rules when traveling.

    Original information source (in Dutch): https://www.info-coronavirus.be/nl/news/occ-1102/. The Belgian COVID information page (in English) can be found here.

  • 28 Jan 2022 3:02 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Buying your own home is a dream for many people. This dream may take the shape of a flat or studio apartment. In that case, you are not simply buying your own home. In Belgium, you will also become co-owner of the building in which the apartment is situated.


    Becoming a co-owner certainly creates opportunities to meet new people and get to know them, but living in a condominium is not always as easy as you expect. To avoid problems, you will need to get involved and take a certain amount of responsibility.

    To help (future) co-owners on their way, the King Baudouin Foundation and the Royal Federation of Belgian Notaries (Fednot) have updated their ‘Practical guide for (future) apartment owners’, written in collaboration with the National Syndicate of Owners and Co-owners.

    Based on the latest amendments to the law on co-ownership, which came into force in September 2021, the guide provides answers to a wide range of questions. What should you know before buying a property in a condominium? Is it compulsory to have house rules? What should you do if you do not agree with decisions made by the general assembly? How can you limit shared expenditure? How is work on the common parts financed?

    You can download the guide here. The guide is available in Dutch, English, French and German.

  • 23 Jan 2022 3:11 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    On Friday (21 January) the Belgian Consultation Committee (at last) approved the corona barometer and barometer-based measures will come into effect on Friday, 28 January under code red. In addition, the booster vaccine will be added to Covid Safe Tickets (CST) from 1 March.


    The committee noted that the number of infections is continuing to increase sharply due to the omicron variant and the reproduction rate of infection remains above 1. The number of hospitalisations is also increasing, although the number of intensive care beds occupied by Covid patients is slightly decreasing, which reflects the characteristics of the omicron variant: less pathogenic but much more contagious.

    Corona barometer

    The long-awaited corona barometer is intended as a tool for proactive policy preparation and communication and should offer more predictability to business sectors and citizens, better structure the decisions of the Consultation Committee, and make them more transparent.

    Codes yellow, orange and red

    The corona barometer has three phases that reflect the level of pressure on the healthcare sector:

    • Code Yellow: epidemiological situation and pressure on hospitals under control;
    • Code Orange: increasing pressure on the health system, requiring intervention to reverse the trend;
    • Code Red: high risk of overloading the health system.

    To determine the applicable code, the Concertation Committee will take into account, in addition to the pressure exerted on healthcare, an overall assessment of the epidemiological situation and will pay particular attention to mental health.

    The barometer focuses on public events, HORECA (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) and recreational activities. A distinction is made between indoor/outdoor and non-dynamic/dynamic activities. Other sectors may be added later as the situation evolves. Education and social contacts will not be part of the barometer.

    Code red from 28 January 2022

    Based on the accelerating increase in the number of hospitalisations, on the high positivity rate and on the intense circulation of omicron resulting in an increasing number of absences in schools, companies, care sectors and public services, the Consultation Committee has decided to launch the code red barometer from 28 January with the following measures.

    Public events

    Public events like plays and football matches will be allowed indoors and outdoors, with the exception of dynamic indoor events like dance parties.

    Wearing a mask is compulsory for everyone inside and outside. The CST is mandatory at all events involving 50 or more participants indoors and 100 or more participants outdoors.

    A capacity of up to 200 people is still allowed. An occupancy rate of 70 or even 100% is authorised for the largest venue rooms provided that the air quality is maintained below 900 ppm CO2.

    Weddings and funerals are permitted as currently.

    HORECA

    The closing time for the HORECA sector is extended to midnight. Wearing a mask remains applicable for customers and staff and the CST is mandatory. In addition, the rules concerning the capacity of 6 people per table and the ban on eating while standing still apply. The nightclubs and discos (indoor/dynamic) remain closed.

    Organised group activities

    Organized group activities such as youth movements, associative life and the practice of sport at a non-professional level are authorised. The maximum capacity is 80 people inside and 200 people outside. Regarding camps, overnight stays are authorised.

    Opening of a series of indoor activities

    With the exception of nightclubs and dance halls, the following indoor spaces, currently closed, can reopen to the public: amusement parks, indoor playgrounds, animal parks and zoos, subtropical swimming pools and recreational parts of swimming pools, trampoline parks, bowling alleys and darts halls, snooker and billiard halls, paintball centres, laser games, escape rooms, casinos, automatic arcades and betting shops.

    Telecommuting, shopping and wearing a mask

    Current measures regarding teleworking (four days a week), safe shopping and wearing a mask remain in effect.

    Validity of the vaccination certificate from 1 March

    Getting a booster dose is an important protective measure against the virus. Consequently, the committee has decided to change the period of validity of the vaccination certificate in the Covid Safe Ticket from 270 days to 150 days from March 1. The validity of the booster dose is not limited in time.

    This means that anyone who was vaccinated before 1 October 2021 with one dose (Janssen only) or two doses (Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca/Oxford) must receive a booster dose before 1 March or their vaccination certification will expire.

    The validity of the certificate of reinstatement will also be extended to 150 days.

    These changes only affect people over the age of 18.

  • 14 Jan 2022 5:12 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    In a call with the European Commission before Christmas, the British in Europe group asked if the Commission could provide some sort of statement for UK citizens resident in the EU to help with traveling and passport stamping issues.


    That statement is now available on the Commission website. The statement - Rules for UK nationals when entering or leaving the Schengen area - can be downloaded here. It is rather basic but may help UK citizens resident in the EU when faced with an intransigent border guard. It is recommended that UK citizens legally resident in an EU country should perhaps save the links on their mobile phones.

    The statement does highlight that nothing in EU law prevents border guards from stamping the passport, however there is little practical use in stamping passports of Withdrawal Agreement beneficiaries.

    BBCA and British in Europe are always interested in your experiences and any issues when entering or leaving the EU/ Schengen area. Keep us informed, so we can help ensure your rights are preserved.

    The statement

    The document states:

    “EU law does not prevent border guards from stamping upon entry to and exit from the Schengen area of travel documents of United Kingdom nationals who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement who are in possession of a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen Member State. The same applies to their family members in the same situation.

    The Commission considers that there is little practical use in stamping passports of Withdrawal Agreement beneficiaries.

    The reason is that stamping a passport serves to establish whether a non–EU national respected the authorised length of a short stay within the Schengen area, but beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement in a Schengen Member State cannot overstay. The usual limitation of a stay of 90 days in a 180 days’ period does not apply to them, irrespective of whether their passport has been stamped or not.

    Beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement can use their residence documents issued under the Withdrawal Agreement at the border to prove their residence status and connected rights, such as not being subject to the maximum duration of stay of up to 90 days in a 180 days’ period.

    The Commission recommends that all beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement to [sic] obtain the appropriate residence document under the Withdrawal Agreement in their Member State of residence and to [sic] proactively present it to border guards when crossing a Schengen external border.”

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