On 2 March 2023, the Belgian Constitutional Court rejected an appeal to annul the Pandemic Law of 14 August 2021. 

The Pandemic Law provides a framework for dealing with epidemic emergencies, defining what constitutes an epidemic emergency, and authorizing the government to declare and maintain such a situation, as well as take administrative measures to prevent or limit its effects on public health. The law lists the administrative measures that can be taken by the government, the Minister of the Interior, and local authorities. Failure to comply with these measures is punishable by law.

Several citizens, four members of parliament, and interest groups sought the annulment of some or all of the provisions of the Pandemic Law, and some have also requested its suspension, which was rejected by the Court in a previous ruling.

The Court rejected the argument that the Pandemic Law violated the Constitution by allowing measures to be taken in areas of competence of the communities. The Court held that while administrative measures might have significant effects on matters that fall under the competence of communities, the Pandemic Law only empowers other authorities such as the government, the Minister of the Interior, governors, and mayors to regulate such measures. The Court also rejected the argument that the Pandemic Law and the Royal Decree declaring the state of emergency could suspend the Constitution. The Court held that they could only restrict the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and it was for the Council of State, ordinary courts, and ultimately the Constitutional Court to verify whether the Constitution was being respected. Finally, the Court rejected the challenges to the declaration and maintenance of the state of emergency, finding that the definition of “epidemic emergency situation” was clear, and the duration of three months for administrative measures was not too long, and the Chamber was not required to confirm the Royal Decree. The Court thus rejected the appeals to annul the Pandemic Law.

Reference: judgment n°33/2023 / ECLI:BE:GHCC:2023:ARR.033.

Full text of the decision available at fr
News available at fr
Press release