The City of London is to double the size of its operation in Brussels ahead of Brexit amid mounting concerns about the consequences of a cliff-edge exit from the European Union for one of Britain’s most important industries.
Sky News has learnt that plans drawn up by the City of London Corporation ?to recruit a managing director for its office on the doorstep of the European Commission were formally approved on Thursday.
Sources close to the Corporation said it was likely to target a senior Commission official? for the new role, which will be advertised later in the autumn.
A number of other personnel will be appointed to the Brussels office, taking the headcount to six, according to an internal Corporation document.
The decision to increase the City’s on-the-ground presence is a signal of the anxiety felt by UK financial? services executives about the potential loss of jobs and revenues from the industry after Brexit.
Influential figures in the Commission and member states including France and Germany want to take big chunks of lucrative markets such as euroclearing away from London.
Meanwhile, many bosses in the British banking, insurance and asset management sectors believe that the progress of the Brexit negotiations to date risks propelling the UK towards a no-deal departure from the EU.
Board directors from Royal Bank of Scotland and Morgan Stanley International will be among business leaders who attend a meeting at Chevening with David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, on Friday.
The City Corporation is understood to have asked Flint Global, a consultancy firm, to develop a blueprint for its enhanced Brussels presence.
According to the document, the plan’s aim is to “put the City in the best possible position to have an ongoing constructive relationship with the EU27”.
The new managing director will be expected to work closely with Jeremy Browne, the former Liberal Democrat minister who has been in place as the Corporation’s special representative to the EU since 2015.
“As the UK? leaves the EU, the representational model for the City and UK financial and professional services in Brussels will need to change,” the Corporation document says.
“It is critical that the City delivers a single, coherent message in Brussels as far as possible.
“This will strengthen the UK’s capacity to influence policy-making and promote shared understanding of UK and EU positions on issues affecting financial services.”
It added that part of the expanded office’s task would be to “gather intelligence from [Michel] Barnier’s Brexit task force to report back to London and [Her Majesty’s Government], and build coalitions of support of likeminded EU member states and non-members and their business associations present in Brussels”.