New in July: government buys electric cars, crackdown on social fraud, easy family name change

The Belgian government is introducing a series of new measures on 1 July. For example, it will only purchase electric cars and social fraud will be punished more severely. It will also be easier to change a family name, and children under the age of 8 will no longer be allowed to head the ball during football.

From next month, the federal government will only buy or lease electric vehicles. The move comes ahead of a European ban on the sale of diesel and petrol vehicles in 2035, part of a drive to make the continent carbon neutral by 2050.

The government fleet currently consists of 920 vehicles, excluding police and defence vehicles. They are mainly service vehicles, used for tasks such as customs or social control.

Social fraud crackdown

On 1 July, a new version of the Social Penal Code will come into force. It is intended to ensure that social fraud, such as illegal employment, social dumping or harassment at work, can be combated more effectively, including through more severe penalties.

Specifically, a fifth level of penalty will be added, with prison sentences for serious breaches of workers' health, safety and welfare. It will only be used as a last resort. The administrative or criminal fines of the lower levels will also be increased. A scientific committee will also be set up to advise on combating social fraud or social dumping.

Simplified name change

Every Belgian adult also has the right to change his or her surname once in a lifetime, as long as the change concerns the name of the father, the mother or a combination of both. There are no special conditions, and the relevant municipality will process the application within one month.

Previously, it was only possible to change a surname for serious reasons or in exceptional cases. A change also had to be requested as a favour from the minister of Justice. Those who want to change their surname a second time will have to go through this complicated procedure.

No more headers under 9

Finally, headers will be banned in youth football up to and including the U9 category in order to prevent damage to the developing brain. As heading is an important part of football, youth coaches from U10 to U14 will be encouraged to teach children to head in a technically correct manner.

Other changes in July include the indexation of the kilometre charge for lorries in Flanders and Brussels and a quadrupling of the sole quota for Belgian fishermen in the Irish Sea.



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