Flemish Parliament calls on European Commission to have post-Brexit strategy

11 December 2019

The Flemish Parliament has adopted a resolution in which it calls on the European Commission to have a post-Brexit strategy. “Whether a deal is reached or not, the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union will have a major impact on Flanders. That’s why it is good that Flanders is making its priorities clear to the European Commission that needs to make it possible for us to deal with the consequences of Brexit,” says the N-VA, which took the initiative.

EU-UK partnership

The resolution calls on the European Commission to quickly set up an ambitious and much-encompassing future EU-UK partnership post-Brexit. The N-VA says: “Also after Brexit, we want Flanders and the European Union to remain good partners of the United Kingdom. Far-reaching cooperation with the United Kingdom is crucial in the fields of trade, education, research, security, fisheries, transport and energy.”

Brexit guarantee fund

Apart from setting out the future EU-UK relationship, the Flemish Parliament is calling on the European Commission to take several measures that must be implemented in the shorter term. For example, the resolution requests that a Brexit guarantee fund should be created that can support regions that will be hit hardest, like Flanders. Some temporary flexibility regarding state aid rules is also being requested so that Brexit-related measures can be taken.

Competitiveness The extent to which companies in one country can compete with similar companies in another country. A law came into force in Belgium in 1996 to monitor competitiveness. This stipulates that Belgian salaries may not evolve faster than the average of those in the three neighbouring countries. The Central Economic Council (CEC) performs an annual measurement to see if the objectives have been obtained. Competitiveness

Apart from that there is also attention for strengthening our economic competitiveness. “Flanders is an SME region as no other, and that’s why we are asking for a strengthening of the European COSME programme that enhances the competitiveness of small and medium-sized enterprises. We also want a relaxation of the rules of the European Globalisation Fund to protect small and medium-sized enterprises,” the N-VA continues.

North Sea region

In the resolution, the Flemish Parliament is also playing the card of Flanders as a “North Sea region”. In this respect it is crucial that the European Commission retains the possibility for member states of keeping 20 percent of the collected EU customs tariffs instead of the proposal to go to 10 percent. “We are also calling for a strengthening of the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund so that shipowners and fishermen can be compensated in the case of a Brexit-related cessation of fisheries activities. Retaining access to British waters and fishing rights there is also crucial,” says the N-VA.

Political dialogue

This initiative of the majority parties is part of the so-called “political dialogue” of the Treaty of Lisbon that allows national and federal state Parliaments to weigh in on European policy. In addition, the European Commission is obliged to provide an official reaction to the Flemish Parliament. “As an open and export-oriented economy, Flanders will feel the impact of Brexit full force. That’s why it is so important that with this resolution we as a federated entity are entering into dialogue with the European Commission about a post-Brexit strategy,” the N-VA concludes.

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