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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance

Antitrust/FDI Insights

Belgium: Agreement on a new cross-sector foreign investment screening mechanism

The Belgian governments have reached a cooperation agreement to put in place a foreign investment screening mechanism to safeguard Belgium's critical infrastructure. 

On 1 June 2022, Belgium's Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, announced that the various Belgian governments reached a co-operation agreement to put in place a new Belgian screening mechanism for foreign investments in sectors that are important for the country's public order, security and strategic interests.

The current agreement foresees the creation of an Inter-federal Screening Committee, composed of representatives of the various government bodies, which will review proposed acquisitions by non-EU investors representing more than 10% or 25% of a Belgian company's shares, depending on the area of investment.

The Belgian screening mechanism will apply to foreign investments in critical infrastructure related to, for example, energy, healthcare, media and defence, but also in technology essential to Belgium's security and of strategic importance (such as AI, robotics, semi-conductors and nuclear technology). The provision of basic goods related to food security, energy or raw materials, access to or control over sensitive information, such as personal data and data in the private security sector, and freedom and pluralism of the media, are other areas that will be monitored.

The adoption of the new screening mechanism follows the European Commission's recommendation to EU Member States – within the framework of the FDI Screening Regulation adopted in 2019 – to set up a full-fledged screening mechanism for foreign investments where such mechanism did not yet exist.

The co-operation agreement now needs to be approved by the various Belgian parliaments. The screening mechanism is projected to enter into force on 1 January 2023.