On Thursday 29th November the NBCC Brexit Forum: ‘Brexit: What next?’ took place at KPMG in Amstelveen, The Netherlands in partnership with KPMG Meijburg & Co.
We were delighted that many of our members joined us to discuss the latest developments in Article 50 negotiations, with the central theme ‘Brexit: What next?’ being tackled from a plethora of perspectives: financial, legal, political, economic and also from a citizen’s perspective.
As the objective of this event was to update you as fully as possible and demystify as much of the current ambiguity, the effects on specific groups were addressed, using concrete, practical examples. Our expert speakers were therefore pleased to answer the many pertinent questions that our members brought with them.
We are grateful that Wilbert Kannekens, President of the Board at KPMG Meijburg & Co, was able to open the event and provide valuable advice in a time of uncertainty. Our main speakers included Peter Wilson, Stefaan de Rynck and Jochem Wiers, who discussed the state of play of negotiations, addressing the UK, the EU and the NL perspective respectively. Additionally, Kees Verhoeven spoke on Citizens’ Rights.
The expert session following the main presentations included speakers Bert Colijn of ING, Marlous van Wouwe of PwC, Ricardo Tulkens of KPMG and Jurgen van der Meer of Clifford Chance.
During the event, five possible outcomes for the future trade relationship between the UK and the EU were discussed: Bremain, the Norwegian Model, the ‘UK model,’ the ‘Canadian Model’ and a Hard Brexit scenario.
Brexit and Tax expert Leon Kanters of KPMG Meijburg & Co explained: “The most likely and favourable scenario would be the ‘United Kingdom Model.’ In this, the Dutch business community is the least negatively impacted by Brexit and trade between the UK and EU would continue as is. Nothing would change for EU citizens in the UK or Britons in the EU. The UK could conclude independent free trade agreements with other countries after the Brexit deal finally closes.’
However, Mr Kanters also warned that there is still a possibility of a hard Brexit: “It can certainly not be excluded that the transition period will be extended or automatically change into a backstop situation, which means that the UK will have to remain with the EU for a longer period in the customs union. It will be exciting and it could just be that the British Parliament disapproves of the Brexit deal on December 11, which increases the chance of a hard Brexit. This is the most unfavourable scenario with great economic consequences."
Peter Wilson, British Ambassador to the Netherlands, echoed Mr Kanter’s words, adding that ‘there is still a lot of work to be done for both the UK and the EU’ but ultimately reiterating the UK’s desire for a ‘frictionless free trade agreement with the EU’ and the ‘great importance of the good trade relationship the UK has with the Netherlands.’
Stefaan de Rynck, part of the Michel Barnier team, agrees with the NBCC’s advice, suggesting that we all ‘preapre for the worst and hope for the best,’ stating his belief that the current Brexit deal is in fact the best possible deal between the UK and the EU but also underlining the possibility of the deal’s rejection by Parliament.
The conclusion we can all draw from this event is that ‘doing nothing is not an option,’ as affirmed by Leon Kanters, and that the degree of preparation will be the determinant of how well businesses fair following the UK’s final withdrawal from the EU.
We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to all of our speakers, without whom this event would not have been possible.
The event was a great success and we are proud to have given our members a platform to be inspired by the rigorous exchange of ideas and to feel more prepared and up-to-date than they did before attending.