Flanders-based companies can receive financial support from Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) if their business is impacted by Brexit. Referred to in Dutch as ‘Bijzondere Crisissteun Internationalisering: Brexit’, this extended subsidy not only applies to companies’ commercial initiatives on the British market but can also be used for initiatives worldwide. It is financed by the European Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) and plays an important role in promoting further market diversification in and outside the EU. After all, there is still underutilized potential to make up for the loss of turnover in the UK elsewhere.
FIT's Brexit helpdesk continues to receive many, often complex questions from companies about the impact of the departure of the UK – Flanders' fourth most important trading partner – from the European customs union and internal market.
While most companies were well prepared for Brexit thanks to targeted awareness campaigns by the Government of Flanders and other key players, there are still businesses that feel the impact of (trade) barriers in the UK, resulting in a loss of market share and turnover.
These are turbulent economic times. Market diversification is more important than ever. FIT, in consultation with the business community, is responding to this at an accelerated pace and offers broader financial support. In this way, FIT helps Flanders’ companies enter new markets as an alternative or addition to the UK market. Joy Donné, CEO of Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT)
The subsidy call has been up and running since 9 November. Thanks to extensive digitization, FIT can bring the new support measure to the attention of companies that are experiencing a negative impact from Brexit. The first reactions from entrepreneurs are very positive. Their need for support appears to be high, indeed. They will use the subsidy for, among other things, participation in trade fairs, prospecting trips to new markets or the optimization and digitization of trade processes.
Digitization is, after all, an important way to counter the negative impact of Brexit. The subsidy also covers up to 20% of the costs of deploying additional staff to deal with customs formalities or to explore new markets.
Sector federations such as Fedustria (textile, woodworking and furniture) and Fevia (food) also inform their member companies about the support measure:
“FIT's extensive support measure is a unique opportunity for all companies in Flanders affected by Brexit,” says Filip De Jaeger, Deputy Director-General of Fedustria.
Nadia Lapage, Secretary General of Fevia Vlaanderen: "For food companies exporting to the UK, another major challenge will come when the UK government starts requiring health certificates. Brexit support therefore remains crucial. In addition, the advice and assistance offered by FIT are essential tools for companies who are looking for new markets, for example through trade fairs, prospecting trips and economic missions."
New calls in 2023
At the beginning of 2023, FIT will launch new subsidy calls. Until 31 December 2023, support from the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (EUR 11.41 million via FIT) can be invested in companies affected by Brexit.
More information about who is eligible for the grant is available here (Dutch only).