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NBCC Brexit Forum Event with Brexit Minister Robin Walker MP



5 October 2017



Paul Drechsler CBE, President of the CBI, the UK’s largest business group, has praised the ‘great trading relationship’ between the Netherlands and Great Britain. In a speech at the Dutch Ambassador’s Residence in London, Mr Drechsler will highlight the contribution made by migrants from the Netherlands going back hundreds of years.
Speaking before an audience of senior policy-makers and business people at an event hosted by the Netherlands British Chambers of Commerce, Mr Drechsler underlined the importance of the historic trade links between the two countries. The UK is the most popular destination for Dutch investors, and UK is the second largest investor in the Netherlands.
With the UK/EU negotiations due to begin again next week, Mr Drechsler will call on businesses to make their voice heard to both sets of negotiators, with firms either side of the English Channel keen for progress, clarity and decisions.

Paul Drechsler, CBI President, is expected to say:

“Now more than ever, we need to make sure the voice of business is heard. “That’s why it’s so great that, today, businesses are coming together and really putting into practice the ideals at the heart of that great phrase: the ‘business community’. “Because it’s only by working together that we will move closer towards the smooth Brexit that’s in the best interests of everyone.
“And what’s clear from my conversations with business leaders across Europe is that an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement is in everyone’s interest. “Firms know what they want. Frictionless trade. No tariffs. Mutual recognition of standards and regulations. And reciprocal access to people and skills across the EU. “Above all, businesses want clarity as soon as possible.”

On the importance of businesses speaking up, CBI President Paul Drechsler is expected to say:

“This summer, exactly 100 days after the UK triggered Article 50 – our Director-General gave a speech at the London School of Economics, announcing our proposal for the UK to stay in the single market and a customs union until a final deal is in force.
“Since then this model of transition has now become UK government policy. “It just shows that when business speaks up and is backed by evidence – government can and will listen.
“That’s why I hugely welcome the president of the VNO-NCW, Hans de Boer’s comments last month, when he spoke out in support of a practical transition agreement.
“The next stage must be urgent action to agree the terms of the transition with EU partners by the end of the year, and the shape of the final deal early next year. “So it’s hugely important for businesses to continue to make the economic case for the best deal as there’s no time to waste: the impact on investment and jobs across the UK and Europe grows day by day.”

On the need to maintain momentum and turn decisions into actions: CBI President Paul Drechsler will say:

“Firstly, we need both sides to make progress on the issue of the status of EU citizens.
“Today, 73,000 Dutch people are living in the UK.
“We can’t leave these people uncertain about their future. And that’s not to mention, the other 2.8 million EU nationals living in the UK.
“We need to guarantee the rights of EU citizens here and UK people overseas within weeks – not months.
“When talks begin again, in four days’ time, there can be no more excuses. We need to put our full weight behind our negotiating efforts and give people certainty over their futures.
“Secondly, the discussion of new trading arrangements with the EU must go hand-in-hand with negotiating the terms of the UK’s exit.
“Governments on both sides of the Channel know that any deal the UK and EU will set the framework and tone for our relationship for decades to come.
“The goal should be a framework for the new trading relationship before we exit in March 2019.
“That means a ‘heads of agreement’ – to use the language of business – that will allow technical talks to start. And allow companies to plan with greater clarity.
“And most of all, we need negotiators on both sides to show leadership by transforming the principles and proposals of both sides into practical viable decisions and action.”

Highlighting the importance of business and governments working together to face the complexity of the task ahead, CBI President Paul Drechsler will say:

“It was great to see the VNO-NCW has now set up its own Brexit taskforce – working with MKB-Nederland, LTO Nederland and the Dutch government to help prepare businesses for the developments ahead.
“These taskforces – like today’s Forum – are places where business and government can use evidence and experience to solve problems and help advance the debate. “That’s really going to make a difference in the months to come. Because, make no mistake, what lies ahead is an extremely complex task. This is the most ambitious and comprehensive free trade deal ever agreed in history.
“It requires calm heads and the best minds on all sides to find the right way forward. “Let’s, remember what is at stake - the choices made round the EU negotiating table – if made well – could brighten our future.
“But if done badly, they could significantly dim it.
“The dangers of a ‘no deal’ scenario are real and would open a Pandora’s Box of economic consequences for all businesses across the EU.
“This would lead to higher costs that will affect people’s jobs, wages and, crucially, their living standards. This is in no one’s interest.
“That’s why we need to build stronger bridges with our European partners.”


Notes to Editors

Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors. The CBI’s corporate members together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of private sector-employees. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world.

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© 2019 The Netherlands British Chamber of Commerce