Several new developments will impact the lives of Belgians on July 1, 2020.
As of July 1, several new features and changes will take effect
Bicycles are allowed free of charge on trains until the end of the year
From July 1 to December 31, getting your bike on the train will be free of charge. It will however be necessary to have a “bicycle supplement” ticket which will be free. Group travel is also permitted again on July 1.
The bike allowance becomes compulsory for hundreds of thousands of employees
From 1 July, the bicycle allowance will become compulsory for workers subject to the auxiliary joint commission for employees (CP 200). The measure, which affects some 55,000 companies and more than 440,000 employees, was the subject of a sectoral agreement endorsed last year.
Employees who regularly use their bikes for their home-to-work trips will receive a bike allowance of 0.10 euros per kilometer driven, with a ceiling set at 4 euros per working day.
The bicycle allowance cannot be combined with other allowances granted for different means of transport on the home-work journey, with the exception of the intervention for public transport. The terms of the award must be determined at company level.
Return of fines for non-compliance with the low emission zone in Brussels
The fines for non-compliance with the criteria for access to the Low Emission Zone (LEZ-Low Emission Zone) of the Brussels Region, temporarily suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be imposed again from 1 July .
Owners of diesel vehicles of standard EURO 0, 1, 2 or 3 and petrol and LPG vehicles of standard EURO 0 and 1 are therefore again liable to a fine of 350 euros if they drive there from that date. As before the suspension, a new fine can only be sent three months after the previous one.
The new exemption, which was recently introduced with retroactive effect from April 1, will also come into force in an effective manner, in favor of persons holding a parking card for the disabled who benefit from the increased intervention in health care.
New tariffs for access to the networks of the cable operators Telenet, Brutélé and Voo
New wholesale tariffs for access to the cable networks of Telenet, Brutélé and Voo will come into effect on July 1 and have been determined for each year until 2023. These are generally revised downwards, decided the Conference electronic communications regulators (CRC). This mechanism makes it possible to open up networks to competing operators and to charge fair prices for the wholesale rates they offer to them in order to bring competition to the benefit of users.
According to the CRC, compared to current prices, those for internet access at 100 Mbps or 200 Mbps (both alone and with a TV offer) will decrease in the majority of cases. Prices will also go down for a range of other speeds, which she says opens up alternative operators the opportunity to expand their product portfolio to high-end and professional customers.
However, prices are going up between 2020 and 2023 given the expected growth in usage, which requires continuing to invest in order to increase network capacity, she explains.
End of magnetic cards at De Lijn
Magnetic cards can no longer be used from 1 July on board De Lijn vehicles. Cash is also no longer accepted. For the sake of modernization and ecology, cardboard cards with magnetic stripes will be deleted, as well as postmarks. However, they will remain in service on the Côte tram until 30 September.
Since March, cash has also not been accepted as a means of payment on buses and trams. Magnetic cards can be exchanged cash on delivery until September 30 at counters or online.
Lower social tariffs for electricity and gas
Social tariffs will decrease on average by 12% for electricity and 39% for natural gas from July 1. They will now be valid for a quarter and no longer for a semester.
Price increases will also now be limited to a double ceiling: quarterly and annual. For electricity, the social tariff cannot be more than 10% higher than that of the previous quarter and 20% higher than the average of the previous four quarters. For natural gas, the ceiling will be 15% per quarter and 25% on an annual basis. The overruns will eventually be passed on to the next quarter.
Organ donation declaration possible online from July
From July 1, anyone wishing to become an organ donor after their death will be able to register their will on the Masanté online health portal. It will therefore no longer be necessary to go to the municipality, even if this is still possible. The declaration may also be made via the attending physician.
As of July, citizens will be able to register their preference for four separate options: a donation for transplantation into another person’s body or a donation of human body material. And, in the latter case: to be used for a patient who needs it, or for the production of innovative drugs or treatments, or for scientific research. For online registration, you will need to connect to www.masanté.be by means of the electronic identity card or via itsme®.
Indexation of the kilometer tax
This July 1st, the tariffs for kilometer charging for heavy goods vehicles will be indexed in Brussels and Flanders. This applies to heavy goods vehicles with a maximum authorized mass (MMA) of more than 3.5 tonnes as well as towing vehicles of category N1 semi-trailers bearing the body code BC.
Single-use plastic cups banned in Namur
Organizers of Namur events will no longer be able to offer single-use plastic cups from 1 July. The measure was adopted by the municipal council in February before being introduced into the general police regulations.
To help the organizers in their approach, the administration’s loan equipment service has a stock of some 8,000 cups and 2,000 reusable mugs.
Inmates allowed to wear their own clothes
From 1 July, detainees will be allowed to wear their own clothes and shoes inside Belgian prisons. Due to the health crisis of the new coronavirus, however, a number of prisons have encountered logistical problems and will therefore not be ready on time, the prison administration said.
Legislation authorizing the wearing of personal clothing in prison dates back to 2005. Fifteen years later, it is only about to be implemented. Article 43 of the law emphasizes that the detainee’s personal clothing and shoes must meet “standards dictated by forced cohabitation with others in terms of hygiene, decorum, order or security”. The inmate may also be required to wear suitable shoes or clothing, then provided by the prison, for work or other activities.
Each prison will specify in its internal regulations its own rules for the wearing and maintenance of clothing and shoes. The detainee may also choose to continue in the prison uniform.
Germany takes over EU Presidency for 6 months
On July 1, the presidency of the Council of the European Union changes hands. The Croats, whose presidency has been swept away by the pandemic, pass the torch to the Germans for six months. Make way for Angela Merkel, who has already announced that she will soon leave politics, and her ministers.
The content has been greatly disrupted by the pandemic, which has knocked the European economy down. Initially, immediate “crisis management” and recovery will be the “essential” priorities, confirms a source. Right after the summer break, “the future relationship with the UK” will take over.
The other priorities of this presidency, which is forced to reinvent itself before it even begins, will then come, if time permits: we cite “social” Europe, then climate, digitalization, migration, the rule of law, but also Foreign Affairs.