On March 7, 2022, changes to both the Belgian Code of Economic Law (CEL) as well as the Belgian Criminal Code (BCC) were published in the Belgian Official Gazette (Belgisch Staatsblad, Moniteur belge).
The main changes include:
- Introducing a filing fee in notifications of concentrations
- Folding the rules and formalities relating to leniency programmes in the CEL and fine-tuning them
- Fine-tuning the provisions on the cooperation with other NCAs and the European Commission
- Expanding the circumstances in which periodic penalty payments and/or fines can be imposed
- Clarifying which turnover needs to be taken into account for purposes of calculating fines imposed on associations of undertakings and how such fines are to be collected
- Modifying the bid-rigging provision in the BCC to clarify that (criminal) immunity is available for bid-rigging infringements.
Save for the introduction of filing fees in concentration notifications, these changes were introduced to bring the Belgian competition law rules in line with “EU Directive 2019/1 to empower the competition authorities of the Member States to be more effective enforcers and to ensure the proper functioning of the internal market” or “ECN+ Directive” for short.