West Flanders gets €1m from EU to ride out Brexit

Summary

EU development funds will go to the sectors most vulnerable to export and job losses

Bumpy Brexit

West Flanders has been given €1 million by the European Union to help the province negotiate the effects of Brexit. The money will support companies in sectors that are expected to experience difficulties because of the changing trading relationship between mainland Europe and the UK.

The funds, from the European Regional Development Fund, are intended to help companies at risk because of their exports to the UK, or where changing trading conditions threaten jobs.

“Brexit is a reality, and whatever the outcome of the negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom, companies will be affected,” explained Hilde Crevits, the economy minister in the Flemish government.

“West Flanders is the province likely to be hit the hardest by Brexit, and the European funds are aimed at the most vulnerable sectors of the West Flanders economy: food, plastics and rubber, textiles, and mechanical engineering.”

Business adjustments

Companies in these sectors have until 21 February to signal that they want to apply for funds. Those deemed eligible then have until 3 April to submit detailed project proposals.

These projects might involve adjustments in business strategy, plans to retain branches of international companies in West Flanders, or to attract companies relocating to the province because of Brexit. The projects also need to line up with West Flanders’ strategy for building a sustainable economy.

The provincial government of West Flanders has set aside €3.5 million to help mitigate the effects of Brexit, particularly on small and medium-sized enterprises. At the end of last year it said that it hoped to secure an additional €3.5 million from the EU in the first half of 2020.

Photo: Belga/Kurt Desplenter