Brexit and traffic priorities of new Enterprise Federation chair


Mobility problems are hampering the economy, says the new chair of Belgium’s Federation of Enterprise, and the regions must work together to solve it

‘Where there’s a will’

Belgium’s chronic mobility problems will be one of Bernard Gilliot’s priorities as he takes over the chair of the Federation of Enterprises in Belgium (Feb). Gilliot is a former executive of Tractebel Engineering, a subsidiary of the French energy provider Engie.

By tradition, Feb, which supports and promotes business interests, is headed alternately by a Dutch-speaker and a French-speaker, and Gilliot succeeds Michèle Sioen of the West Flemish textile concern Sioen. Both he and his predecessor, however, are perfectly bilingual. 

Gilliot picks up the reins as a self-confessed diplomat, and among his main tasks in the coming three years of his tenure will be the effect of Brexit on Belgian business. As head of Feb, Gilliot is also chair of the Group of 10, the main negotiating committee representing government, employers and trade unions.

“The Belgian economy is growing again, and employment opportunities are increasing,” said Gilliot. “The private sector took on 56,000 people last year, and we’ve become more competitive.” 

Some reforms are still needed, however, he said, “including a review of corporate taxation, which is crucial to attract investors”.

Traffic, though, is Gilliot’s top priority for his term of office. It is crucial, he said, to find a sustainable solution to the tailbacks that plague the country, which have a grave effect on the economy. 

“Belgians sit an average 44 hours a year in traffic,” he said. “So I repeat Feb’s call to the mobility ministers: Sit together and develop a coherent, interfederal vision for mobility. Every resident of this country – commuters, employers, students – will be extremely grateful. Is it possible. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Other areas Gilliot noted as priorities are digitalisation, free trade and the future of Belgium’s energy sources and management. 

Photo: Michèle Sioen passes the Fed chair over to Bernard Gilliot
©Courtesy Feb