Looking towards Europe in 2018
With news of a breakthrough in the UK’s Brexit negotiations that may now allow the start of trade talks, our attention focuses again on Europe and on the possible balance of power (in business terms at least) after 2019.
When we first considered holding an event in Europe, the FEM team looked at several major cities, but we decided upon a one-day Global Mobility Conference in Amsterdam for a number of reasons. Just after we decided upon Amsterdam, the London Evening Standard published an article which confirmed why we thought that the city is becoming such an important hub for business.
The piece: Why London's tech and media workers are being wooed into relocating to Amsterdam focused primarily on those relatively new industries, with companies such as Booking.com, Netflix, Uber setting up HQs there. It also highlighted the fact that several major financial institutions such as Japanese banking giant Mitsubishi UFG, and RBS, which because of its 2008 acquisition of ABN-Amro, (a Dutch bank) now already has a Dutch banking licence have also shown a strong interest in moving there, post-Brexit.
A global outlook
The attractions are easy to see: Amsterdam, like London has a global outlook with a long tradition of trade, and Amsterdam has a relatively benign tax regime and a highly efficient high-speed broadband network making the city an obvious magnet for high-frequency trading.
The author of the Standard’s article Joy Lo Dico also observed that once the UK licences to broadcast into the EU of international media companies like Disney and Time Warner become defunct, they too may consider a move and Amsterdam would be an obvious choice.
But Amsterdam and The Netherlands as a whole have long been home to some of the biggest companies around – Anglo-Dutch success stories such as energy giant Royal Dutch Shell, publishing and data firm, RELX (formerly known as Reed-Elsevier) and consumer goods behemoth Unilever as well as Philips and Heineken.
A magnet for talent
Amsterdam is also easy to reach from mainland Europe and beyond with links by sea, air and rail. Eurostar plans a direct London-Amsterdam service and Schipol airport boasts six runways to Heathrow’s two, and is just six minutes from Zuidas, the business district of Amsterdam. The efficiency of the infrastructure and the fact that English is so widely spoken too, attracts talent from far and wide, assisted by the fact that there are high-skilled migrant visas available with the first 30 per cent of a worker’s salary allowed to be tax free.
That The Netherlands may benefit from the UK’s exit from the EU is somewhat ironic. The Netherlands was a strong supporter of the UK joining, and since 1973 both nations have shared many concerns about the EU and argued for reform of the common agricultural policy, and a more liberal external trade agreement. So they have much in common, and The Netherlands will have lost a useful ally within the EU.
Join us to discuss the future of business in Europe
The political and economic landscape of Europe appears to be undergoing another of its dramatic shifts and business will need to adapt quickly. When we meet at our Amsterdam Conference on 22nd March we will hear from senior corporate experts from across Europe and we’ll be debating some weighty and perhaps controversial topics, but knowing how close-knit the global mobility community is, I'm confident that it won't be vulnerable to the kind of splits that the EU has witnessed.