In 2009, the Government of Flanders adopted a strategy paper for the relations with the UK.
Four strategic objectives were identified:
- Maintaining and consolidating Flanders’ leading position as a spatial-logistical platform and attractive place to set up a business in the heart of Europe, taking into account sustainable development and the transport connections between Flanders and the UK.
- Consolidating Flanders’ economic impact, by actively working the British market with the aim of consolidating Flemish exports to the UK, by encouraging entrepreneurship of Flemish companies in the UK and by attracting British tourists and investments to Flanders, and by working with British partners in the fields of science and innovation on the other hand.
- Active dissemination of Flanders’ culture, language and heritage in relations with the UK and the further development of research and educational relations. Drawing up a transnational dossier for the recognition of World War I heritage in the Westhoek region as UNESCO World Heritage in 2014 in collaboration with British experts.
- Search for interfaces and synergies with British policy with a view to a potential collaboration in joint projects with tangible added value. At EU and multilateral level there is also an active search for common points of view (especially with the devolved regions) enabling us to consolidate our positions in the organisations of which we are both a member.
The focus of Flanders in the UK is therefore specifically aimed at economic, cultural and academic diplomacy. Examples are historical migration, the commemoration of 100 years WWI, collaboration around renewable energy or biotechnology, partnerships with British cultural institutions and festivals or with universities, highlighting Flanders’ best assets like fashion and design.
Brexit will clearly have a material impact on our relationship with the UK, and we will actively work towards maintaining and further developing our relationship with the UK.