End of the transitional regime for the provision of investment services, performance of investment activities, offering of payment services, issuance and/or distribution of electronic money and performance of insurance activities after Brexit

On 31 January 2020, the United Kingdom (hereafter “UK”) left the European Union (hereafter “EU”) and entered into a transition period which ended on 31 December 2020. Furthermore, the UK and the EU concluded an agreement, the “EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement”, which does not provide for a special treatment of financial services after Brexit. As of 1 January 2021, the UK is considered a third country for the purposes of financial supervision.

Consequently, credit institutions, investment firms, payment institutions, electronic money institutions and insurance undertakings that are governed by UK law and that were active in Belgium before 31 December 2020 will only be able to continue their activities in Belgium if they:

  • obtain an authorisation from the National Bank of Belgium or the Financial Services and Markets Authority (hereafter “FSMA”) for the establishment of a Belgian branch of a credit institution, investment firm, payment institution, electronic money institution or insurance undertaking governed by the law of a third country, or
  • limit their activities to insurance activities exempted by the GATS or OECD trade agreements (i.e. marine and transport insurance), or
  • limit their activities to the management of insurance portfolios in run-off, on condition that they comply with the conditions to be imposed for this purpose in a Royal Decree of 22 December 2020[1], or
  • limit their activities to providing investment services and performing investment activities without an establishment in Belgium with respect to professional clients per se, eligible counterparties and UK nationals established in Belgium, which requires them to notify the FSMA.

[1] Royal Decree of 22 December 2020 implementing Article 20, first paragraph of the Law of 3 April 2019 on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union with respect to insurance companies, insurance intermediaries, ancillary insurance intermediaries and reinsurance intermediaries.