On the 22nd of October an article appeared in De Standaard, a Belgian newspaper. It quoted the Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon (N-VA) who stated that Brexit already brought 42 companies and 2,000 jobs to Flanders, Belgium. Where did they get that specific number?
Jambon made that comment in the Flemish Parliament earlier that day in approach to Brexit. Earlier numbers showed that Brexit would only be negative for European companies, but Jambon stated the opposite.
His statement is confirmed by Sarah Heuninck from the cabinet of Jan Jambon himself. “The figures are real and are investigated by Flanders Investment & Trade.” FIT is an organization that facilitates investments in Flanders. They did numerous researches on Brexit subjects and investigated the influence in different companies. That’s what the cabinet told us. They couldn’t give us the figures themselves.
The company that did the investigation, Flanders Investment & Trade also didn’t want to give us the exact information from which Jambon gets his facts. “The information is strictly confidential and is not permitted to be published.” They did give us a document that said that a lot of companies invested in Belgium, but there was nothing about actual jobs.
The reason why it’s confidential is that a lot of the numbers are internal information from the companies themselves, and often even speculations and hypotheses.
The fact that Jambon stated this in Parliament while hundreds of other politicians and experts say the exact opposite makes the claim conspicuous. Only one day before, another article in the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad (pay wall) published that Brexit could cost the Flemish ten thousands of jobs. That’s what most newspapers say.
So, a lot of hypotheses claim that Brexit could only be harmful for jobs in Flanders, and it would be a great move of Jambon to show the citizens of Flanders wrong. Which is not possible if the sources he uses aren’t available.
This fact is uncheckable. Jambon’s statement is correct according to his own cabinet but can’t be checked by a third party. We, for example, couldn’t see the figures ourselves, and can’t say it’s true because the figures have not been confirmed by another source.
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RESEARCH | ARTICLE © AP University College, Antwerp, Belgium