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Why Flanders is a strategic location in Europe

South of the Netherlands, west of Germany, north of France and just a hop away from the UK: Flanders, the northern region of Belgium, is your perfect gateway to the EU single market. Find out what makes it the best place to invest in Europe.

As European as it gets

One of Belgium’s three autonomous regions, Flanders has the city of Brussels as its capital: home to the European Commission, the EU Council, European Parliament, NATO, and other public and private international decision-making centers.

Furthermore, Flanders has five easily accessible provinces, each with its own provincial capital. From west to east:

  • West Flanders (Bruges)
  • East Flanders (Ghent)
  • Flemish Brabant (Leuven)
  • Antwerp (Antwerp)
  • Limburg (Hasselt)

60% of Europe’s purchasing power at your doorstep

Flanders is centrally located within a megalopolis stretching from Greater London to the Netherlands, Belgium and parts of Germany and France. As a result, the region gives your business smooth access to one of the world’s highest concentrations of people, money and industries.

In fact, 60% of Europe’s purchasing power is located within 500 kilometers of Flanders. This means that Europe’s main markets can be reached in under 24 hours.

Map of Flanders in Europe: Over 60% of European Purchasing power is situated within a tight 500-kilometer radius around Flanders

Home to 650+ European distribution centers

In Flanders, global enterprises play important economic roles, in addition to their impact on the region’s employment and the added value generated by their economies of scale. Despite its small area of 13,522 km², Flanders boasts over 650 European distribution centers (EDCs) – the highest density of EDCs in Europe.

Flanders’ central location is a key performance indicator for the region’s competitiveness. Here, our company is in the middle of the European market for our products.

Wouter De Geest
Former Managing Director, BASF Antwerp

Excellent test market

In addition to ranking consistently among the world’s most globalized economies, Flanders is situated at the crossroads of three major European cultures: Germanic, Roman and Anglo-Saxon. People in the region are also fluent speakers of Belgium’s three official languages – Dutch, French, German – as well as English.

Consequently, Flanders offers access to a diverse society and test market for your products and concepts. The region’s comprehensive distribution network also makes it easier for your company to get innovations to consumers more rapidly.

Secure spot for post-Brexit foreign investment

It’s an understatement that Brexit has transformed the way companies do business in Europe. Trade barriers and changing regulations have an impact on your competitiveness. Flanders’ central location, proximity to EU institutions, varied funding opportunities and other assets make it a great place for safeguarding your European business, while granting smooth access to the European single market.

The world’s 3rd-most globalized economy

Flanders not only sits in the epicenter of Europe’s purchasing power, it’s also the economic driving force behind one of the most globalized economies in the world.

Only adding to the region’s globalized fabric, foreign companies contribute much of their expertise and productivity to Flanders’ economy – leading to even faster internationalization and more economic integration.

Attractive destination for foreign direct investment

Thomas Friedman once said that Belgium, and Flanders as region, is a “super trading nation” – and it’s not an exaggeration. When it comes to foreign direct investment (FDI), Flanders overperforms at both European and global levels.

International trade powerhouse

It’s a fact that the vast majority of all Belgian exports come out of Flanders and are shipped to markets around the world. Some of the region’s main export sectors are:

  • chemicals and pharmaceuticals
  • transport equipment
  • machines, devices and electronics
  • minerals
  • plastics
  • food and beverages
  • pearls, gems and diamonds
  • textiles
  • optics and precision equipment

Productive labor market

It’s no secret that Flanders’ workforce is consistently ranked among the world’s most productive and talented. This significantly levels out employment costs in the region.

Interested in doing business in Flanders?

Let us help you!

  • We can introduce you to other companies, banks and regulators
  • We organize site visits to real estate locations
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  • We're an official government agency
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  • It's completely free.
  • Get an overview of all incentives relevant to your company.
  • Tax system explained in-depth.
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  • Discover the benefits of Flanders (in addition to the chocolate).

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