Western Europe tries to retrofit itself for finance
Frankfurt, Paris and Dublin all hope to pick up at least some of the spoils of Brexit, but replicating the advantages of London and the UK is not so easy.
At the top of the website of Frankfurt Main Finance, a banking industry lobby group set up to persuade businesses to come to the city, is a typically understated German symbol of how excited the city is to grab some of London’s financial sector after the UK’s divorce from the European Union.
There is no exclamation mark in the ‘Anniversary of Brexit referendum’ timeline that appears on the organization’s homepage, but the message is clear: Frankfurt cannot wait to get its hands on Brexiting banking business.
Frankfurt Main Finance is understandably keen to play that down. Responding to a Euromoney post on Twitter noting that it had highlighted the anniversary, it said: “We’ve always regretted #Brexit since our 1st statement on 6.24.16.” But it is nonetheless right to push for an increased role for the city: banks and other businesses will need EU headquarters, after all. And Frankfurt has much to offer beyond delicious white asparagus: in the case of finance, the more firms set up there, the more likely it is that others will follow.
It is with this in mind that officials in Frankfurt, including the finance minister for the state of Hessen, Thomas Schäfer, are hoping to relax rigid employment laws.