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The new Belgian Company Code, the law of January 23 2001, and the Royal Decree of January 30 2001 which sets out the details of various general provisions in the Company Code, all came into effect on February 6 2001.

The law of January 23 2001 aimed to correct all the errors and inconsistencies that had become apparent in the Company Code since its publication in August 1999, and it confirmed the transparent tax treatment of Economic Interest Groupings (even though these are considered to be legal persons).

The main part of the Royal Decree of January 30 2001 is the restatement of accounting regulations applicable to companies. It is important to note that the (modified) Accounting Law of July 17 1975, which sets out the obligation of Belgian companies to keep accounts, remains in force. The new Royal Decree focuses on matters regulated by the Company Code, such as the preparation, control and publication of the statutory accounts and consolidated accounts. Under articles 10-11 of the 1975 law, also enterprises that are not organized as companies are required to follow these rules.

The replacement and restatement of the Royal Decrees of October 8 1976, March 17 1986, March 6 1990 and November 25 1991 by the Royal Decree of January 30 2001 resulted in improved accessibility of the legislation, some clarifications and the following important modifications:

  • the applicability of the specific accounting rules, not only to legal mergers, split-ups or contributions of a universality or a branch of activities in accordance with the Company Code, but to all those defined by the Company Code; and
  • a new order for the general principles regarding statutory accounts to bring them more into line with the fourth and seventh European Directives, such as the new pre-eminence of the principle of regularity, above the principle of a fair and true view.

As the above shows, the new Company Code and the Royal Decree of January 30 2001 can not be neglected by accounting and tax practitioners.

Michael Olislaegers

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