With the UK set to leave the European Union in just over four months, the Brussels Capital Region is launching a major initiative to attract UK-based businesses in the insurance and financial services sector to base themselves in the Belgian city, to ensure they can continue to operate across Europe following Brexit.
Backed by the Brussels’ regional government, regional trade associations and industry bodies, the initiative aims to bring UK-based businesses to the Belgian capital and help them secure the future of their European operations.
Cécile Jodogne, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade at the Region of Brussels, commented: “Despite the UK and EU establishing in principle, a Withdrawal Agreement, there will still be plenty of room for uncertainty until the end of the transition period. Businesses operating in both in the UK and the EU need to prepare now for any eventuality, and as a priority ensure that they can continue to operate seamlessly across the UK and EU. The only way to guarantee this is to establish a base of operations within the EU and, as the Brexit deadline bears down upon us, businesses need to make a decision now on where to place these operations.”
As the capital of Belgium and home to a host of European and global financial organisations, including major regulators, Brussels is the ideal place for insurance and financial services businesses to place their Europe and global-focused operations.
Brussels already features a vibrant financial and fintech ecosystem, with a wide range of banks, asset managers, brokerage firms, leasing companies and credit institutions established in the city. In addition to financial services organisations, Brussels hosts a number of specialist incubators to promote innovation and stimulate the growth of financial start-ups, helping to establish an active and exciting financial ecosystem. The Belgian financial regulators have developed a progressive and supportive approach to financial services, encouraging growth in the sector and creating a business-friendly regulatory environment.
Mrs Jodogne continued: “The relationship that the UK establishes with the EU will dominate the landscape for many businesses over the next years, especially those in the insurance sector and wider financial services industry. As the city at the centre of the EU, hosting the European Commission and the European Parliament, Brussels is where key European decisions are taken. Insurance and financial services businesses that want to be at the centre of the decision-making process and help to shape the future of the UK-EU relationship should consider Brussels as their European headquarters.
“We are seeing an increasing number of businesses investigating different cities in which to base their European operations. With a well-educated local workforce and very attractive conditions for foreign nationals moving to our region, as well as competitive house prices, a good education system and a cosmopolitan city centre, Brussels represents a fantastic option for both work and family life. Just two hours from London on the Eurostar, and well-connected to Europe and the rest of the world, Brussels is a prime location for British and any other businesses looking to maintain and grow their presence on the European and global stage,” Mrs Jodogne added.
The Brussels Capital Region is organising a series of events at the Belgian Embassy in London over the next few months designed to outline the attractions of the Region to UK-based businesses. They will cover the finance, life sciences and audio-visual sectors.
The first of these events is on 4th December 2018 and is aimed at the finance and insurance sectors. The event itself will give attendees a detailed insight into the Belgian capital, the benefits of being based both in London and Brussels, and an opportunity to meet industry regulators.