Special new tax on newcomers?

The Belgian Migration Secretary Theo Francken has unveiled plans to charge newcomers to Belgium a special tax to cover the cost of administrative formalities that need to be fulfilled. The daily De Standaard reports that the new tax on immigration will cost 225 euros.

The idea is to introduce the tax before the year is out. EU citizens, asylum seekers and the victims of people-trafficking will be exempt.

The measure is being debated in parliament on Wednesday. Belgium's Council of State that provides guidance on new legislation has raised several questions wondering whether the bill does not conflict with the Constitution and European and international law.

Mr Francken has refused to be drawn on the exact amount this morning but pointed to neighbouring countries where between 100 and 300 euros are charged.

The new measure is a federal version of the immigration tax that Antwerp city cabinet member Liesbeth Homans tried to introduce in Antwerp last year. At the time the governor of Antwerp Province intervened because the measure was at odds with European law.

Earlier in the week Mr Francken also spoke of the introduction of a new tax that would hit some categories of people coming to Belgium as a result of family reunifications.