Foreign investors avoid congestion city Brussels
The Brussels mobility problem keeps foreign investors away from Belgium’s capital. That is what consultancy agency Ernst & Young (EY) says in its annual survey of investment in our country. The foreign investments in Belgium are reaching record levels, but they are running on the engine of Flemish industry. ‘The attractiveness of Brussels is worrying”, says EY.
Brussels is not an asset
Last year Brussels accounted for only 161 of the 5.838 jobs that foreign companies created in Belgium. If you know that Brussels accounts for one fifth of Belgium’s gross domestic product, the region should do ten times better than it does now.
In 2016, three out of four companies were still in favour of Brussels. Now it has fallen to 44%. Only 7% of the investors puts Brussels in the top three of Europe’s most attractive cities – Paris is leading the list, followed by London and Berlin.
“Brussels should be an asset, but it is not”, concludes Leo Sleuwaegen, economics professor at the Catholic University Louvain (KU Leuven). In his opinion, Brussels should certainly be able to attract more knowledge-intensive business and IT services after the Brexit – the British departure from the European Union.
Congestion of ring road has doubled
Of investors who do not yet have activities in Belgium, 19% say that poor mobility is holding back investment. Of the investors who are already active in Belgium and who experience the traffic jams themselves, 61% say that poor mobility prevents them from making additional investment.
Data from the Flemish Traffic Centre confirm that Brussels has lost its attractiveness due to traffic problems. The congestion of the Brussels ring road, which was not small in 2011, doubled in seven years. It has apparently reached the point of destroying jobs.
In 2009, however, with the sixth reform of the Belgian state, Brussels received extra money to prevent commuters from being stuck in traffic jams, but mobility has not been made any easier.
Below its potential
Moreover, the alternatives for the car are still not attractive enough. The fact that tens of thousands of Belgians still defy traffic jams every day shows, among other things, that public transport is not a solid option for many commuters. Reforms to make the Belgian railway company NMBS/SNCB more customer-friendly can, for years, be summarized as ‘too little too late’. At the end of this month, the small railway union OVS will strike again.
Every metropolis has to manage social problems, of which traffic is one. Yet we see that in the overview of 162 European congestion cities that the traffic navigation group TomTom makes, Brussels has been in the top ten for years. This shows that Brussels is a city that lives too far below its potential.
And what turns out to be the case?