De Moor presents new migration code to replace outdated legislation

The Belgian state secretary for Asylum and Migration on Wednesday presented a new migration code designed to replace and clarify outdated legislation. The new code also includes a number of new provisions aimed at combating abuse.

The 2,000-page text, which is to replace Belgium's 1980 and 2007 laws on the entry, residence, settlement, expulsion and reception of foreigners, has yet to be approved by the federal government.

The plan to overhaul Belgium's outdated immigration laws dates back more than a decade. State secretary Nicole de Moor's department has spent three years working on the project with around 100 stakeholders.

Unreadable and unworkable

Over the past decades, old regulations have been adapted to Belgian legislative changes and new European rules, but this has made the current code unreadable and unworkable, De Moor said on Wednesday.

The new code will not only clarify the current rules but also introduce more efficient procedures, she said. For example, police will be able to use the national register to check whether a person is in the country illegally. Under the current rules, police have to administratively detain a person to access this information.

Preventing abuse

In addition to greater transparency and faster procedures, the code will introduce a number of provisions aimed at preventing abuse. One is that families will no longer be able to extend their right of reception by submitting a new asylum application on behalf of a child after a first application has been rejected.

Although the federal government approved the policy direction of the new code in 2022, there is a chance that the law will not be passed during the current legislative period. The Belgian parliament is due to be dissolved at the end of April ahead of elections in June.


Nicole de Moor, secretary of state for Asylum and Migration, at the presentation of the new Migration Code in Brussels on 10 January 2024 © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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