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Geert Bourgeois on the Brexit agreement: “This doesn’t mean that everything is a bed of roses”
At the last minute, the EU and the United Kingdom reached an agreement for an orderly Brexit. It puts an end to a period of great legal uncertainty four and a half years after the referendum. “This doesn’t mean that everything is a bed of roses,” MEP Geert Bourgeois warns. “Even though there will be no duties and restrictions on imports and exports, our economy will nevertheless be seriously affected.”
Brexit has an impact on the economy on top of the coronavirus pandemic:
KULeuven expects a loss for the entire European Union of 0.38% gross national product (GNP) and 280,000 jobs,
a loss of 1.2%and 140,000 jobs for the United Kingdom, and
a loss of 0.6% GDP and 6,500 jobs for Flanders.
Delays at the border
The United Kingdom is no longer part of the EU customs union. This means that the number of customs clearances per year will rise to 255 million. Delays at the border are to be expected, certainly in the first six months. UK Customs is not ready and will phase in the check system between 1 January and 30 June.
Impact for fishermen
Our fishermen can also breathe a sigh of relief. Although they are losing fishing grounds and quotas, they will still have access to British waters and 75% of current fishing quotas, with legal certainty for a period of five and half years. This is far from ideal, but many times better than nothing at all with a no-deal Brexit.
All hands on deck
It is now all hands on deck for our companies that are hopefully as well prepared as possible. The European Commission must now allocate the Brexit Fund to the most affected regions as soon as possible. “The De Croo government must act quickly and ensure that Flanders, which accounts for 85% of exports to the UK, receives its rightful share,” says Geert Bourgeois.
Concluding new trade agreements
The EU must also make headway with concluding new trade agreements as a small compensation for the heavy loss on the British market. Finally, we must continue to reach out to our British friends by being open to the greatest possible cooperation, including in fields such as research and development, space travel, university education, the North Sea, etc.
The N-VA wishes to express its very sincere gratitude to Michel Barnier, his team and all the co-negotiators. “They brought tough and exhausting negotiations to a successful conclusion with great perseverance, inventiveness and patience,” Geert Bourgeois says.