Today, a central bank official of Belgium said that the economy of the country would contract almost 1 percent and the Belgians would become poorer if the United Kingdom crashes out of the European Union in a chaotic way.
Belgium’s North Sea ports of Zeebrugge and Antwerp are considered as the gateway for massive amounts of goods that are traded with the United Kingdom. It is one of the EU countries that are most exposed to the effect of Brexit.
Afterwards, the central bank’s senior EU policy adviser, Hand Geeroms, informed a news conference: “The national bank estimates the economic cost of a hard Brexit at 0.9 percent of GDP.”
He added: “The most optimistic scenario gives a loss in purchasing power of 0.4 percent. The most pessimistic scenario gives a loss in purchasing power of 2.5 percent.”
He continued: “This is the price Belgians will pay for a decision of the British people to leave the single market.”
Exports to the United Kingdom from Belgium’s northern region of Flanders, which account for approximately 87 percent of the total exports of the country to the United Kingdom, come to around 28 billion euros per year. That is not much lower than the exports of the United Kingdom bound from France.
Every day, around 4,000 containers head for the United Kingdom from Zeebrugge, and Belgium is hiring hundreds of customs officials for its ports.
Previously, Leuven University has estimated that a no-deal Brexit could result in 28,000 job losses in the country that has approximately 11.5 million people.
Charles Michel the Belgian Prime Minister, informed the news conference that his government was pushing ahead with the preparations for such a scenario.
He added: “But I also say clearly that I know we will face problems. It won’t be a walk in the park. We know that very well.”
For now, Belgium and the other states of the European Union staying on together are left guessing the eventual result of Brexit, with options still ranging from a disruptive no-deal to a long delay or even a reversal of Brexit.
The European Union has given the United Kingdom until the 12th of April to decide on its next steps if it will not be able to ratify the divorce deal that Prime Minister Theresa May this week.