Belgium to screen foreign investments

The federal authorities are to screen large-scale foreign investments in Belgium for eventual national security issues. The announcement that in future foreigners planning big investments in our country’s economy will be screened was made by the Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne (Flemish liberal, photo above) in an interview with the financial dailies ‘De Tijd’ and ‘L’Echo’. 

The screening will be carried out by a new Investment Screening Commission that will be part of the Federal Economy Ministry. The Commission will be made up representatives of the Federal Economy, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Transport, Defence, Energy and Health departments. Depending on the nature of the investment that is being screened two representatives of the relevant regional authority may also be invited to take part in the screening.

Mr Van Quickenborne is keen to stress that during the screening, the Commission will stick strictly to a remit of analysing eventual national security issues. It will not pass judgement on whether a particular investment is economically opportune. The Commission will be able to seek the advice of the State Security Service when deemed appropriate.  

If the screening finds that a particular investment could result in a threat to public order or national security the authorities will first look at ways in which measures can be taken to minimalise this. Banning an investment will only be done as a last resort, Mr Van Quickenborne promised. The new screening process was devised by the Justice Minister and his Federal Government colleague, the Economy Minister Pierre Yves Dermagne (Francophone socialist).



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