Relations with the United Kingdom

Flanders has had strong links with England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland since the Middle Ages. Today, they remain very important trading partners. Flanders is the UK’s fourth largest export partners. Belgium is among the UK’s top 10 trading partners. 

The Flemish Ports (Antwerp, Ghent, Zeebrugge, Oostende) are essential for the British economy. Countless products from the EU and elsewhere are shipped from there to the UK. Zeebrugge is an important hub for the transport of natural gas to the UK. There has been a fixed gas pipeline connecting both sides of the Channel since 1998. 

Flanders and the UK also have a shared history of alliances and battles. The 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, the “Groote Oorlog” was commemorated in 2018. Tens of thousands of soldiers from the then-British Empire died in Flanders Fields. Many Belgian citizens found temporary refuge in the UK during the war. The memorials and cemeteries in the West of Flanders remain an important destination for those who want to commemorate and understand the events of 1914-1918.  

Per year, more than 900,000 Brits visit Flanders. They go there to enjoy Flemish gastronomy, to visit Flanders Fields, to do business, and to visit our Art Cities. 

Art and culture is what keeps connecting us – from the Old Flemish Masters on display in numerous British museums, to contemporary Flemish artists showcasing their craft on British festivals, in museums, and concert halls.  

The UK is an important partner in the field of science and innovation, too. There are countless examples of collaboration between universities and research centres across both sides of the Channel.