From 8-12 May, the Belgian Economic Mission, led by HRH Princess Astrid, visited the United Kingdom. With more than 400 participants, 214 companies and organizations and four days of activities in the Greater London Area, it was one of the largest ever organized. The extensive program reflected the great interest of our companies, universities and research centres for the opportunities within the framework of our trade relationship with the UK.
As the Diplomatic Representation, we accompanied our Minister-President Jan Jambon and our Minister for the Economy Innovation, Work, Social Economy and Agriculture, Mrs Hilde Crevits, during several parts of their visit.
Minister Crevits, accompanied by the Flemish Farmer's Union and the Flemish Centre for Agricultural & Fisheries Marketing (VLAM), met with the National Farmer's Union, discussing the consequences of Brexit and the war in Ukraine on agriculture and food supply, organic agriculture, young farmers and the challenges of the profession. She also talked with British Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Victoria Prentis, about the future relationship between Flanders and the UK and the challenges for the fishery sector.
Minister Crevits lunched with 3 Flemish academics doing pioneering research in the UK. In the afternoon, together with HRH Princess Astrid, she opened a garden at The Royal Hospital Chelsea, donated by VLAM, the Flemish Centre for Agricultural & Fisheries Marketing.
The many activities of the Minister-President included a round table discussion with several people from the British cultural scene at the National Gallery, where artist mobility was an important point on the agenda. The discussion was followed by an exclusive visit to the painting 'The Ugly Duchess' by Quinten Matsys (1466–1530), which is being restored at present. The National Gallery is planning an exhibition for 2023 with the painting as the centrepiece. On Tuesday he met with the British Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Hands, to discuss cooperation on the issue of energy security and the storage of hydrogen and carbon in particular. On Wednesday, the Minister-President visited New College Oxford, where he enjoyed an exclusive visit to the Courtrai Chest.
Our own highlights included ministerial engagements with UK government ministers and a very well attended and enthusiastically received Alumni Event at the Royal Society in London. The icing on the cake was the Flemish Reception at the iconic Banqueting House, which included a spectacular performance by the band of the Grenadier Guards.