The exodus of companies outside Brussels has started

More and more companies are leaving the capital. In question: the lack of space and the price of the country. But the figures are misleading, says Didier Gosuin: the number of jobs in Brussels is growing faster than elsewhere.

The names of the companies that have chosen to move their employees entirely or partially in Flanders or Wallonia can only say: AXA, Belfius, Sony, Microsoft …

"I have older but not yet published data showing that the phenomenon has been around for a long time, but has not increased dramatically in ten years."

Ludo Struyven

Researcher in the sociology of work

Figures from the Brussels Ministry of Employment, obtained by L & # 39; Echo, are clear: the number of companies leaving Brussels for neighboring regions is increasing. So, in 2017 3,420 companies left the capital, against 2,768 who have settled there. A negative difference of 652 for Brussels. Data to compare with those of the last two years, which show a constant evolution (-543 in 2015, -621 in 2016). The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Brussels (Beci) contacts the existence of the phenomenon and is worried, fearing a loss of attractiveness of the region.

Do these figures correspond to a general trend? No, says researcher in the sociology of the work Ludo Struyven, KU Leuven and HIVA, author of a much-commented report in June. "I have older but not yet published data showing that the phenomenon has been around for a long time but did not increase in 10 years", he notes.

He completes: "Every year a flow of workers to Wallonia and Flanders without leaving their company, we see it at large companies that send employees in subsidiaries and also in the opposite direction. These figures show the atypical character of the regionAbout half of the jobs in Brussels are located in multiregional companies, compared with a third in Flanders and Wallonia. "

Moving companies want space that is not too expensive, while business premises are more expensive in Brussels and the possibilities for expansion are lower.

In Brussels, the company Cinoco-Palais du Vin recently announced in La DH its future departure, from Molenbeek-Saint-Jean to Walloon Brabant. The reason: a need for extra space.

The company is not the only one: large institutions in banking and insurance (Belfius, AXA …) have done the same. The Brussels Minister for Economy and Employment, Didier Gosuin (DéFI), does not deny the phenomenon, but hears the running parallel with "the great dynamics" of his region. "Many companies leave us, but is it reasonable to think that they will all stay?" No, companies that move house want cheap space, while business premises are more expensive in Brussels and there is less room for expansion, but Brussels remains the economic laboratory of the country and its dynamism also benefits Flanders and Wallonia! "says the minister.

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Misleading figures?

The figures of this "exodus" indeed appear to be partially misleading. In fact, the number of business creations has never been so high (12,977 in 2017) and in the same way, the number of company shutdowns has also exploded (8,748). Eventually the number of jobs in the Brussels Region rose by 1.4%, faster than its Flemish (+ 0.9%) and Walloon (+ 0.3%) neighbors.

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