Brussels woos UK insurers

An alarm clock warning about the imminence of Brexit.

The Brussels Capital Region has launched a major campaign to attract UK insurance and financial sector businesses to Belgium as a firefighting measure against the threat of Brexit.

Barring a dramatic development – which is admittedly not beyond the realms of possibility – the UK is set to leave the European Union (EU) in March next year, and many businesses could potentially be looking at the option of setting up EU hubs. Lloyd’s of London, for example, recently opened its new base of operations in Brussels, and the city’s Capital Region hopes that it can attract more entities of this stature.

The initiative, which is backed by the regional government of Brussels, as well as regional trade associations and industry bodies, promises to help businesses ‘secure the future’ of their operations on the continent. Additionally, the city promises a burgeoning fintech ecosystem, including several specialist incubators that have been set up to promote innovation and nurture startups.

“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,” commented Cécile Jodogne, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade at the Region of Brussels. “Businesses operating in both 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.”

The Brussels Capital Region will host a number of events at Belgium’s London embassy over the next few months to promote the attractiveness of the region to UK business heads. The first, on 4 December, is aimed at the insurance and financial sectors.

“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,” Jodogne went on to say. “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.”