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The 150th edition of the NBCC Brexit Forum highlighted the next phase that follows now that the UK has nearly left the EU on 31 January 2020. 

During the NBCC Brexit Forum event, keynote speakers highlighted the various paths that are needed to be taken following on from the December 2019 results.

Lyne Biewinga, Director Membership of NBCC, explained that we are in the final days of the ratification process, with the UK leaving the EU on the 31st of January 2020. The next crunch point will be the deadline for asking for an extension at the end of June. Many themes on both economic and security partnerships need to be discussed in the coming phase 2. 

Peter Wilson, British Ambassador to The Netherlands, illustrated various key challenges that the UK and the EU will face in the post-Brexit era; the desire for a comprehensive free trade deal, challenges about internal and external security and the ongoing issue of climate change. The discussion of these three key issues portrayed the evermore pressing need for the UK to push to achieve robust key partnerships in order to address these issues.

The Q&A portion, of the event, presented an interesting question that is on everyone’s minds – Is the UK ready for the new system in January 2021? The answer to this question appeared to be solid in that the UK is ready with a purpose and they are very keen to get on with the next stage of Brexit negotiations. 

Stefaan de Rynck, senior advisor in the European Commission, continued with a well founded wish for 2020 and that is to have a united EU in order to negotiate a partnership with the UK. Stefaan de Rynck brought further clarification to the discussion by analysing what exactly the transition period means for the UK and the Netherlands. This transition period is a time for negotiations for an agreement on a free trade and security partnership and generally for businesses to get their affairs in order

Hans de Boer, President of VNO-NCW, continued the discussion further by stressing the importance in finding a common strategy to strengthen Trans-Atlantic ties as this is deemed vital to preserve our open society and our economic marketplace. A positive to be drawn from this discussion is that the Netherlands appears to be much more prepared for the post-Brexit era than some of the other European Member States.

Nevertheless there three points of worry that were highlighted; UK regulatory divergence, the intention to legally exclude the possibility to extend the transition period and the free trade agreement (broad scope vs. limited scope).

Isabelle Deschamps, General Counsel & Member of the Executive Committee at AkzoNobel, portrayed her what the post-Brexit era specifically means for businesses. One message that was utterly clear was that their commitment to the UK will not change. What is needed for businesses to function, and to thrive, is certainty and stability. In order for this to be achieved businesses are supporting as much alignment, between the UK and the EU, as possible. 

The event culminated in a highly informative expert discussion including:

Nanette van Schelven,General Director of the Customs, Administration of the Netherlands who explained how Netherlands Customs is preparing for the new situation that the post-Brexit era will bring. Nanette urged the business community to prepare themselves, that cooperation between stake holders is very important and that preparation is needed in both the UK and in The Netherlands.

Tim de Wit, NOS, explained (as a continuation from Boris Johnson’s statement about getting Brexit done) is that Brexit has only just started. Furthermore Tim mirrored the earlier discussion in that there are serious concerns over negotiations for free trade deals.

Bert Colijn, ING, discussed the heavy drop in the sterling and how leaving the EU comes at a price in any given scenario. A question asked (at the Q&A portion of the panel discussion) was – Will the prices of UK good increase? The response to which was that it really depends on the sterling and the type of trade deal that the UK can make.

Hugo Vijge, PwC, concluded the panel discussion by highlighting the issues businesses may face in light of the new rules that will apply during and after the transition period. These included securing the rights of frontier workers and navigating the upcoming points-based immigration system in the UK. The main message was that companies should act now by getting insight into their mobile workforce, communicating with their employees and ensuring their internal operations are geared up for new post-Brexit processes. 

The general wishes that were expressed across of the speakers at the event was the wish for a united EU going forward for the future negotiations in the post-Brexit era.

We would like to thank our speakers for sharing their thoughts and analyses on how we go forward from the December 2019 election result. Furthermore we would like to express our thanks to KPMG, KMPG Meijburg & Co. for hosting this event and to VNO-NCW for co-organizing this event.

We look forward to welcoming you at one of our upcoming event.