Prince Laurent in court to obtain social security coverage

A legal oddity linked to the current regime of royal endowments, which some describe as contrary to international and European standards.

To be able to benefit from social security coverage, Prince Laurent has taken legal action. According to our information, he decided to cite the Union of Middle Classes (UCM) and the National Institute of Social Insurance for Workers (Inasti) before the French-speaking Labor Court in Brussels.

The request was submitted to the court in May 2023. Quite surprisingly, King Philippe’s brother appeared alone at the introductory hearing. And it comes to us that if the prince decided to present himself alone, it is because he believes he is facing injustice. He doesn’t go to court for money. Simply to protect his family and allow his family to benefit from certain social rights available to all other citizens living on Belgian territory.

An imperfect endowment reform

This unique situation has its origins in 2013, when - reveals that Queen Fabiola has set up a private foundation. Fons Pereos – that’s its name – was officially supposed to support the nephews and nieces of King Baudouin’s widow.

However, in the eyes of tax experts, it was also a structure allowing future heirs to avoid paying significant inheritance taxes. However, at that time, the queen still received an annual grant of 1.4 million euros.

Faced with the controversy, the Di Rupo government is reviewing the allocation system. And decides that in the future, the brothers and sister of Princess Elisabeth, heir to the throne, will not receive an endowment.

Astrid and Laurent, sister and brother of King Philippe, will have a transitional regime. They will continue to receive an endowment, but at a lower level. This will be modeled on the remuneration of members of the Council of State.

And will consist of a part intended for the “salary” of the beneficiary, and another intended for their operating and personnel costs. The beneficiaries will also have to pay tax on the “salary” part.

Paradoxically, if the beneficiaries of these grants cannot work, they have no social security coverage. Neither for them, nor for their children. No right to reimbursement for health care, sickness and disability insurance, pension or even family allowances.

A situation which does not affect Princess Astrid because her husband Prince Lorenz worked as a banker. On the other hand, Princess Claire, who gave up her work as a surveyor, would have absolutely no income in the event of the prince’s death.

A situation which was notably denounced by Professor Charles-Éric Clesse (ULB), former auditor of Charleroi’s work, in an analysis of royal endowments and in an interview given in 2022 to La DH. The latter considered that it would be necessary to revise the law and extend the social status of parliamentarians to beneficiary, “by subjecting the beneficiaries of the grant to the payment of social contributions whether in the social status of the public service or in that of self-employed workers”.

Closing arguments in November

The procedure initiated by Prince Laurent is continuing. It is Me Olivier Rijckaert, lawyer specializing in social law, who now represents the prince. When contacted, he confirmed that a procedure had been initiated but did not wish to communicate. “I never comment on a current file”. After an exchange of arguments, pleadings were to take place on May 6.

According to information from an official Source, the parties have agreed to postpone the hearing by mutual agreement. It will take place before the 11th chamber of the Brussels Labor Court on November 18.

Before filing an appeal, Prince Laurent tried to register as an independent through the social secretariat of the Union of Middle Classes (UCM). However, by wanting to affiliate it with Inasti – the National Social Insurance Institute for self-employed workers – the UCM would have encountered a refusal. It is on this basis that the appeal was brought.

In his reasoning, the prince considers that the “remuneration” part of his endowment, which represents 90,000 euros gross per year, constitutes self-employed income because it would be taxed as such by the tax authorities, which gives rise to a presumption of liability to tax. status of independents.

If he were recognized as independent, he would have to pay quarterly contributions. However, his family would benefit from social coverage, including health care coverage. A right to basic benefits which is currently denied to him. Behind the scenes, there are rumors that Laurent and his lawyer could, if they are unsuccessful, turn to a European court.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Prince Laurent traveled to Turkey to sign, on behalf of his non-profit organization Environment Network (EN), an agreement with the Bosphorus University in Istanbul. The objective was to establish “bridges of cooperation between Europe and Asia in the field of new energy technologies”, according to the terms of the press release issued by the prince.

On the sidelines of the signing of this agreement, Prince Laurent gave interviews to various Turkish media, during which he expressed a certain form of admiration for President Erdogan.

Thus, in the Turkish daily Sabah, known to be close to the AKP, Erdogan’s justice and development party, the king’s brother would have praised the Turkish presidential couple. “It is very difficult to implement such a project in Europe, explained the prince while estimating that President Erdogan and his wife Emine Hanım had “an important vision” on alternative energies, adding: “We need a leader capable of supporting the project, a strong leader. I think this leader is Erdogan.” These remarks would have displeased the Royal Palace. A good Source confirms that the Palace “would not have hesitated to let the prince know that his words were inappropriate, given his position.”

What does the agreement with Turkey contain?

With this agreement between the Bosphorus University and its association, Prince Laurent aims to “urgently respond to new European and international legislation” in the field of clean energy technologies. By 2030, the European Union must reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990. To achieve this objective, the energy sector must be reviewed. “My renewable energy hybridization project was revolutionary at the time, and still is today,” he explained to the Belga agency, further specifying that former Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt had recognized his work in this sector through an official letter. “Hybridization plants for renewable technologies and energy efficiency make it possible to combine a large number of these technologies in a single system. I can help businesses save hundreds of millions of euros, while reducing pollution by 80%, or even 100%,” Prince Laurent further defended.

Alexander De Croo, Prime Minister. ©BELGA

Prince Laurent cannot have political contacts without being covered by the federal government, recalled Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) in reaction to the prince’s interviews published in the columns of the daily Het Laatste Nieuws and in the media stuff, where he praises President Recep Tahyip Erdogan.

But in the Flemish press, Prince Laurent also assured that he was “preparing a new life” in which he could “flourish more”.

A new life perhaps… without endowment! “I am not comparing myself to Prince Harry. I have always been an entrepreneur. But it’s true that I would like to start a new life,” he explained in this interview with Het Laatste Nieuws. “My intention is to work abroad in the future.”

For Alexander De Croo, “in exchange for an endowment, there are a certain number of duties and expectations”. But without an endowment, the prince is “a free man”, but to do this he must first contact the government. For the moment, this question has not been addressed, said Alexander De Croo.



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