CELIS Country Note on Belgium, 2023
Date of Publication: 25 October 2023
The Belgian cross-sectoral Investment Screening Mechanism (ISM) has recently entered into force. The objective of this mechanism is to identify and mitigate risks related to Foreign Direct Investments in Belgian critical infrastructure and strategic assets. The journey towards creating this mechanism was made difficult by obstacles resulting from Belgium’s complicated institutional framework. First, this Country Note provides background by elaborating on the economic and political context of inbound foreign investment in Belgium. Second, this Country Note provides a timeline of the legislative process. From the cases that triggered the debate to the agreement on the current mechanism, this note demonstrates how the design of the mechanism evolved in a country that has fragmented governance. Third, this Country Note sheds light on a few of the most important features of the Belgian screening mechanism. The text delves into the scope of the mechanism, the role of the Inter-federal Screening Commission, and the screening process. Finally, the effectiveness and efficiency of the Belgian screening mechanism is yet undetermined. Only practical application can show whether it achieves its objective, namely the protection of Belgium’s strategic assets and infrastructure.