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Preparing for Brexit : Ensuring Business-friendly Immigration Policies

Labor migration can help address skills shortages, keep business, attract investments, and drive economic growth. The Brexit deadline is fast approaching and Belgium should take this opportunity to adapt its corporate immigration policy, in line with existing European Union Directives.

Migration is one of the key dossiers in the negotiations. Companies and employees have already started to relocate to the continent. Belgium has the opportunity to profile itself as a hub for business in post-Brexit times. However, Belgium, which has not yet implemented important EU Directives, currently has a corporate immigration system which creates obstacles for companies and places them at a competitive disadvantage vis-à-vis neighboring countries.

The EU has adopted two key directives on legal migration: the Single Permit Directive in 2011 and the Intra-Corporate Transferee (ICT) Directive in 2014, both of which facilitate business-friendly immigration policies. Belgium has not yet met the Directives’ transposition deadlines of December 2013 and November 2016 respectively, and the Belgian legal framework remains to be updated.  

In the light of Brexit, now is the time to put Belgium on the map as a knowledge-based environment and a place to do business. Revisiting its corporate immigration policy, and creating a flexible and business-friendly legal framework is an important next step for driving future economic growth.

In its position paper Opportunities for Belgium: Ensuring Business-Friendly Immigration Policies, AmCham Belgium’s Human Resources Committee outlined the priority concerns for businesses. There are several areas to be taken into consideration by the Government when implementing the EU Directives. To ensure Belgium remains a gateway to Europe, we recommend the Government implements the Single Permit Directive in a way which does not delay the immigration of a highly skilled and managerial workforce. The EU ICT Directive should also be implemented as soon as possible, with a flexible approach towards key transposition options, particularly relating to the county’s existing schemes and cooling off period.

The transposition of the EU Directives, together with the regionalization of the labor migration policy, creates a unique opportunity to modernize and revisit the current legal framework, reduce administrative burdens, ensure cost-efficiency, clarity and certainty for companies.  

If Belgium does not take the opportunity to change its corporate immigration system, the country risks losing business opportunities to neighboring countries – who have already implemented these EU Directives. Better labor migration policies could solve Belgium’s talent gap, and drive economic growth in the long-term. AmCham Belgium is ready to work with all levels of government, to ensure companies say #Yes2Belgium, before and after Brexit.

Do you want to know more about the potential impact of Brexit on migration policies and how to prepare as a company? Check out Fragomen’s dedicated Brexit webpage.

For more news on Brexit, check our blog post Business after Brexit and this month’s issue of AmCham Connect