Luxembourg, Belgium up number of work-from-home days
Cross-border workers living in Belgium will be allowed to work from home for up to 34 days per year without paying additional taxes from the start of 2022, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and his Belgian counterpart Alexander de Croo said on Tuesday, extending the current period by 10 days.
Owing to the pandemic, Luxembourg reached an agreement with Belgium so that cross-border workers could work from home for an unlimited number of days without having to pay taxes in both countries. The same waiver has been in place for people living in France and Germany. Some 48,000 Belgians commute to the Grand Duchy each day for work.
Before the pandemic, those living in Belgium could work up to 24 days a year from their home. Luxembourg has similar agreements with its other neighbours, France and Germany. French cross-border workers can work from home for a period of 29 days per year and Germans for just 19 days.
Belgian Prime Minister de Croo said the agreement, which will come into force at the start of 2022, was a "compromise" between both governments after Belgian media reported his government sought a 48-day cap.
People living in Luxembourg but working in Belgium will also be entitled to 34 days from the start of 2022.
The current waiver is in place until 30 September for Luxembourg's cross-border workers living in France and Belgium and it has not yet been decided if this will be extended. The agreement with Germany is automatically extended every month until one country decided to stop it.
In an effort to facilitate cross-border travel, both countries' transport ministers will continue to discuss modernisation works on the Brussels-Luxembourg train link, which currently takes over three hours to the despair of many commuters and EU officials. The Belgian and Luxembourg governments have requested funding from the EU's Covid recovery fund for the project, a joint press release said.
Luxembourg would put up additional resources to increase capacities and speed up travel between the two capitals if extra cash was needed, Luxembourg's finance minister Pierre Gramegna said during the press conference on Tuesday. Bettel said it was "regrettable" that travel between Brussels and Strasbourg - where the EU Parliament meets - is quicker via Paris than via Luxembourg, also an EU capital.
Both governments also vowed to intensify military cooperation, signing a treaty that oversees the joint use of Luxembourg's A400m military aircraft - used to evacuate people from Kabul - according to the press release.
The joint government meeting - dubbed Gäichel - was the 11th of its kind since 2004 and came as both countries celebrated the 100th anniversary of the Belgium–Luxembourg Economic Union (UEBL). The treaty signed in 1921 abolished tariffs between the two countries and set a fixed currency exchange rate.