Geert Bourgeois on the British elections: “Now there is clarity and we can negotiate”

13 December 2019

MEP Geert Bourgeois congratulates Boris Johnson on his election victory, but is sad to see our British friends leave. “I remain convinced that Brexit is not a good thing for Flanders and the EU, nor for the UK. But now there is at least clarity and we can negotiate on what I for one hope will be future cooperation that is as close and as favourable to trade as possible.”

Historic ties between Flanders and the United Kingdom

Now that Boris Johnson has an absolute majority in the British House of Commons, Brexit will become reality. Boris Johnson will get his deal through Parliament and make the deadline of 31 January. MEP Geert Bourgeois warns that the real work with a view to the future relations between the UK and the EU will only now get off to a start. “It is of the utmost importance for Flanders to maintain its historic ties with the UK. Not least regarding trade. I am calling for a motto of ‘quality before speed’ to be given high priority during the negotiations and to strive to achieve a level playing field. I will watch closely over this from my role as coordinator in the International Trade committee.”

High import duties

If no ambitious free trade agreement materialises, Geert Bourgeois fears that Flanders will have to pay high import duties on among other things carpets (8 percent), frozen products (16 percent) and fruit juices (24.4 percent). In addition there will be all manner of extra costs: think for example of customs checks and checks of vegetable-based products.

PLUS treaty

Together with a trade agreement that is as ambitious as possible, a PLUS treaty is also crucially important. In such a PLUS treaty, the further cooperation between the EU and the UK in other fields will be examined. “As well as an agreement on trade, we must have a PLUS treaty, which concerns other matters such as scientific and academic cooperation, the exchange of students, energy, fisheries, transport and cooperation regarding the North Sea. There will be many matters to be discussed in this regard in the coming decades. Also, aspects such as the intelligence service, defence and so on will have to be included in it,” Geert Bourgeois concludes.

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