Brexit debate: need for realism

4 October 2017

The European Parliament is once again talking about the Brexit negotiations. “These debates are always good for great images in the media, but actually deliver very little result,” MEP Sander Loones regrets. “The Parliament must work towards a transition that is rooted in solid law and reach an equitable deal with the United Kingdom. That’s important not only for the British, but also and above all for Flanders.”

Transparency on the Brexit negotiations is important. The future of the EU and the new relationship with the United Kingdom must be the subject of a democratic debate, not bureaucratic politics behind closed doors. “Our European citizens and businesses are not waiting around for a political show. They are expecting results and an agreement that benefits all,” Sander Loones emphasises. “All parties at the table would look good by investing their energies to this goal above all.”

Sander Loones believes that a growing sense of realism was already tangible at the party conference of the British Conservatives. “The British seem to be getting more pragmatic. I see it again and again in the many conversations I have here with politicians and cabinet staff. They realise they will no longer be able to enjoy the same European benefits after their departure.”

Setting up a proper transition period

At the same time, the traditional parties in the European Parliament seem to be digging their heels in ever more deeply. “Let’s be honest with one other: who really still believes that an entire Brexit deal can be negotiated in detail by 2019? On the other hand, it’s still possible to set up a proper transition period. The fact that the British are beginning to realise that is precisely what’s good in this regard. Such a transitional phase can provide certainty to our companies and at the same time create a little extra time for the in-depth negotiations. But if we are to achieve this, time is of the essence. Everyone needs to be doing their utmost to achieve that proper transition.”

Continuing trade relations

The N-VA has invested in relations with the United Kingdom for many years now and will continue to do so after Brexit. “Even after they’ve left the EU, the British will remain our neighbours, and we will continue to trade extensively with them,” Sander Loones concludes. “And that’s something that’s necessary, because thousands of jobs in Flanders depend on that trade with the UK. In addition, the British greatly value the historical and economic link with Flanders.”

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