Policy recap

Recap: AmCham Belgium’s policy work since September 2020

David Gaier, Public Affairs Manager, AmCham Belgium
AmCham Belgium’s policy Committees play an important role in shaping the Chamber’s advocacy messages and making progress on issues of importance to our members. Even during the worst hours of the COVID-19 pandemic, our Committees remained extremely active. Let us look back at what our policy committees have been doing, and what they achieved, in the past year.

Government Relations Forum

AmCham Belgium’s Government Relations Forum (GRF) gives public affairs professionals from our member companies the opportunity to meet on a regular basis and discuss issues directly with policymakers from all levels of government. After the long-awaited formation of a new Federal Government in October (during the process of which we also had many interactions to make sure negotiating parties were aware of our policy recommendations), the GRF reached out to policymakers to present our updated Priorities for a Prosperous Belgium (PPB). Among others, our members held delegation meetings with members of the new Federal Government (including Ms. Eva De Bleeker, Secretary of State for Budget and Consumer Protection; Ms. Zakia Khattabi, Minister of Climate, Environment, Sustainable Development and Green Deal; and Prime Minister De Croo), various party leaders, their Chiefs of Staff or representatives of their study centers (CD&V, Open VLD, DéFI, PS, Vooruit and others) and Members of the Federal and Regional Parliaments.

In addition, the GRF continued to invite guest speakers to its meetings, giving GRF members the opportunity to directly interact with Mr. Thomas Dermine, Secretary of State for Relaunch and Strategic Investments, in charge of Science Policy, who shared some insights into the upcoming Belgian relaunch plan in February 2021; with Mr. Tom Feys, Chief Investment Officer of the Federal Holding and Investment Company; or with the Chiefs of the Cabinets of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mobility as well as of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice. The Committee also launched a series of events called AmCham’s State of Belgium, which allows GRF members to ask questions to key Members of the Federal Parliament about the most current and pressing policy issues. Our guests so far have been Mr. Theo Francken (N-VA) and Mr. Gilles Vanden Burre (Ecolo). Given the success of these sessions, others will be organized as from September 2021.

Also worth mentioning is the launch of three new Subcommittees by the GRF: the Sustainability and Innovation Subcommittee; the Mobility and Infrastructure Subcommittee; and the Country Governance Subcommittee. Their main objective is to monitor policy developments in those fields and help the Chamber come up with relevant and concrete policy recommendations while giving our members a platform to raise their concerns, share knowledge and strengthen their networks. More information on the Subcommittees will be provided to the entire AmCham Belgium membership soon.

GRF position papers since September 2020:
  • Transposition of the ‘Single-Use Plastics Directive’ in Belgium. Read the position paper here.

Innovative Healthcare Committee

AmCham Belgium’s Innovative Healthcare Committee (IHC) is a unique cross-industry platform whose goal is to create a sustainable healthcare ecosystem while empowering patients and improving the quality of care. A major milestone for the IHC was the launch of its Year of Healthcare in September 2020 with an online event presenting new recommendations on integrated care. Although it took place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Year of Healthcare enjoyed great success and overall attendance was excellent thanks to a series of high-quality events on integrated care, healthy working, the future of biomanufacturing in Belgium, value-based healthcare and clinical trials. Those events were organized in cooperation with IHC members and other AmCham Belgium Committees and contained panel discussions with high-level speakers, including from ministerial Cabinets and the healthcare sector. The IHC will conclude its Year of Healthcare with a major in-person event at the end of October – stay tuned for more information.

As the COVID-19 crisis highlighted the importance of health and the need to strengthen the Belgian healthcare system, the IHC felt that addressing these new challenges was also important. First off, the Committee organized two online events on the COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 testing to showcase the role played by leading international companies in those fields. Secondly, the IHC decided to (re)launch three Subcommittees on integrated care, personalized healthcare, and real-world data in May and June 2021. The aim is to work on new policy recommendations in those fields, which are of great importance to all IHC members.

As one of our key PPB issues, healthcare was an important topic discussed at all cross-Committee delegation meetings with policymakers. The IHC also has its own outreach program and is about to launch a strong campaign as from September 2021.

IHC reports since September 2020
  • “Moving Towards Integrated Care in Belgium”. Read the full report here.

Legal & Taxation Committee

AmCham Belgium's Legal & Taxation Committee (LTC) is responsible for monitoring significant tax and legal developments in Belgium, taking into account relevant EU and international aspects. Together with its various topical Subcommittees, the LTC plays an essential role in our policy efforts. In addition to taking part in AmCham Belgium’s outreach efforts in cooperation with other policy Committees, the LTC also held its own delegation meetings. The Committee met with the Tax Advisors of various Cabinets as well as leading Members of Parliament, and established contact with the Cabinet of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, an important stakeholder for LTC, to foster dialogue and urge policymakers to strengthen Belgium’s competitiveness as a place to invest. The Legal & Taxation Committee also had the pleasure of welcoming Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Vincent Van Peteghem as guest of honor at its New Year Reception.

What is more, the LTC and its Subcommittees had the opportunity to learn more about today’s most pressing tax issues thanks to various prestigious guest speakers, including from Belgium’s Permanent Representation to the OECD, Vlerick Business School and Belgium’s High Council of Finance.

When needed, various (Sub)Committee members did not hesitate to draft position papers on behalf of AmCham Belgium to highlight the points of view of our member companies. AmCham Belgium also took part in various public consultations at the EU and OECD level on digital taxation, Pillar I and Pillar II.

LTC position papers and publications since September 2020
  • Position paper “A Call for Quality and Sustainability of Fiscal Measures”. Read the position paper here.
  • “Comments on the Public Consultation Document on the Reports on the Pillar One and Pillar Two Blueprints” See full text here.
  • Position paper on “Articles 26 and 79/207 of the Income Tax Code of 1992”. Read the position paper here.
  • Position paper on the “Draft Bill Introducing a Tax on Securities Account”. Read the position paper here.
  • Feedback on the proposed EU Digital Levy. Read the feedback here.
  • Position paper on the need to “Support to maintain Belgium's R&D tax incentives and their attractiveness for investors”. Read the full position paper here.

Immigration taskforce

The Immigration Taskforce, which is part of the Human Capital and Talent Committee, is a trusted advisor to the Federal and Regional Governments with respect to economic migration. The Taskforce provides feedback on policy decisions, based on the members’ practical experience and knowledge of migration legislation and how it affects international businesses. The Taskforce has continued its dialogue with the Walloon authorities and Cabinets in order to find solutions to the issues companies in the Region were still facing. The meetings held so far have been very constructive and long-term solutions are currently being discussed. The Immigration Taskforce was also pleased to finally see the implementation of the EU’s Intra-Corporate Transfer (ICT) Directive in Belgium. This has been an important priority for the Chamber and will ease intra-EU mobility for the staff of international companies, while reducing administrative burdens.

AmCham Belgium would like to thank all Committee members for their impressive work and commitment. We look forward to further strengthening the voice of international business in the coming months.

About the author

David Gaier, Public Affairs Manager at AmCham Belgium

Always willing to network, David designs the Chamber’s outreach strategy, building bridges between AmCham and political stakeholders. He enjoys learning foreign languages and traveling.