Koenders responds to Brexit notification: ‘Keep calm, be realistic and negotiate’

News item By Government.NL

Today the United Kingdom formally notified the EU of its intention to leave the Union and initiate negotiations on its withdrawal. Responding to the news, foreign minister Bert Koenders stressed that the Dutch government would do everything possible to promote and protect the interests of Dutch nationals and businesses. The Netherlands wants clarity for all Dutch people and businesses affected by Brexit, he said.

‘After a lengthy period of uncertainty,’ the minister added, ‘today we have some clarity. We are prepared for the negotiations and await them with confidence.’

The minister urged all parties, including the United Kingdom, to remain realistic. ‘There’s a lot at stake for the UK, the EU and for our country. We’re all going to feel the effects – individuals and businesses alike. I want to be clear about that.’

Mr Koenders pointed out that more than 100,000 Dutch nationals currently live in the UK. What’s more, the UK is one of the Netherland’s biggest trade partners, and the Dutch economy is more closely interwoven with the UK economy than most other EU countries.

The Netherlands will now work with the EU member states to establish the negotiating parameters and mandate, after which the talks can begin in earnest. The Netherlands has a number of priorities in this regard.

‘First, the government wants clarity for everyone, and not least for Dutch nationals living in the UK,’ Mr Koenders said. The Netherlands will press to ensure that the financial obligations between the parties are settled effectively. As soon as all remaining commitments have been met, the EU and the UK can start shaping a new relationship that focuses above all on the economy and trade, and internal and external security.

In addition, the Netherlands is committed to the principle that there can be no ‘cherry picking’ on the UK’s part when it comes to access to the single market. The four freedoms (freedom of movement of people, goods, capital and services) are and will remain indivisible. Market access must be tied to a level playing field, independent supervision of compliance and high standards in areas such as food safety. The Netherlands also wants to ensure that the Brexit process does not lead to competing regimes on tax schemes, financial supervision and state aid, which could undermine the position of workers and result in social dumping.

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU also presents opportunities for the Netherlands. There is increased interest among international companies, for example, in either setting up operations in the Netherlands or moving activities there. The government will support businesses that see opportunities in the Netherlands, and to that end, it is appointing extra staff in the US, London and The Hague to work on attracting foreign investment.

Finally, a transitional period will be needed to limit the negative effects of Brexit for Dutch nationals and businesses as much as possible.

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