From Brexit to Brussels: A Belgian way of wooing companies to move to Europe’s capital
With an ever-so uncertain outcome from Brexit, companies are increasingly jumpy about the consequences of a poorly executed deal. A negative outcome is expected for London, with just over 3 months left between the Parliament vote on the withdrawal deal and the start of the 2-year transition period, during which the UK will be officially out of the EU. In the meantime, some are pushing for a referendum. But in any case, the opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is at best lukewarm about it.
While this uncertainty, which has been dragging on for years, is perceived to be bad for the EU and markets in general, there are already benefits to share for EU members. More particularly from the thousands of UK based companies, which now see their European position compromised due to nationalist and nostalgic pipe dreams, drummed up by UK Conservatives to cash in on the rising discontent across Europe.
Toyota, Microsoft, BMW, Dutch Bank, Barclays, Diageo are just some of the businesses that will be forced to move following Brexit. Up to 40% of US companies based in the UK consider relocating. The extent to which they will have to transfer their operations is uncertain. The worst case scenario, a Hard Brexit, would see the UK lose access to the common market and stop the free movement of Europeans on its soil. The consequences would be devastating for companies that target the whole European market: they would not be able to hire the talent they need, need to increase their expenditure to access the common market, as well having to deal with customs and different regulations.
Here enters Brussels. Competing with a handful of European cities (Frankfurt, Paris, Dublin, Madrid), Brussels is trying to attract companies. Their marketing campaign called This is your Brussels, seems to play on the necessity of moving fast: The future is close – meaning 2021 is just around the corner. Their website tries to showcase how Brussels is one of the great European cities with a number of advantages for companies. Brexit woes could mean new riches for Brussels: as with everything in life, from great losses opportunities also come along.