Brussels is failing to keep up with other European cities in attracting British firms to the Continent after the long-awaited Brexit because the city does not seem to welcome British companies, according to the boss of the British Chamber of Commerce, Glenn Vaughan.
Vaughan (pictured) was meeting with Françoise Schepmans, who will lead the list at the regional elections for conservative party MR and who has said she is a candidate as minister-president.
Interviewed by La Dernière Heure, he praised Brussels for its position as an access point to Europe, the presence of the European institutions and the cosmopolitan character of the city, offering a high quality of life, health care and education.
However, in the area of post-Brexit business development, he described Brussels as “more of a tortoise”. “Unlike Brussels, other major cities came to London to lobby British businesses”. The other cities like Paris and Frankfurt have an advantage in representing major countries and large markets, he said. Dublin and Amsterdam, meanwhile, have similar regulation as currently operating in the UK.
“At the present time, I don’t have the feeling that British enterprises are welcome in Brussels,” he said. “Flemish Brabant appears to be more attractive. A lot of companies are installed for example in Diegem and Zaventem, which adds to the problem of mobility.”
The international community, on the other hand, is well received in Brussels itself. “Brussels is a very cosmopolitan and a very welcoming city,” he said. “However I have noticed more of a gap than elsewhere between the international community and the local population, which could be a problem for companies who want to invest for the long term. On the other hand, you have many people who thought they would stay for only three years, and ended up staying for much longer. That’s very encouraging, and shows how attractive the city is.”
Alan Hope The Brussels Times
Correction: a previous version of this story described MR as part of the ruling coalition in Brussels.