Dutch Authorities Preparing for Hard Brexit
AP Photo/ Peter DejongEurope16:12 20.02.2018Get short URL
Preparations for a hard economic frontier between Britain and Europe’s largest port are under way as the European hub fears exposure to economic fall-out of Brexit.
The Government of the Netherlands, reportedly spooked by continuing divisions and infighting within the British Government, has initiated preparations for a no-deal scenario with the UK, hiring nearly a thousand additional customs staff to man its ports of entry.
Dutch Finance Minister Menno Snel on February 19 announced the government would be hiring some 930 additional customs agents to man the country’s ports of entry. Even in the case of a successfully negotiated transitional agreement between Britain and the EU along the lines of that between Europe and Canada, at least 750 more personnel would be required.
The Dutch city of Rotterdam is the largest port in the European Union and the chief entry and exit point for goods travelling to and from the bloc’s soon-to-be 27 member states. Roughly 460 million tons of cargo passes through its harbor every year.
A Dutch Parliamentary report published in November 2017 warned that the country’s economy would be more acutely affected than most EU member-states even in the case of a so-called “Soft Brexit” and that a chaotic and uncertain political situation in the UK posed a greater threat to the country’s well-being than an efficiently executed “Hard Brexit.”
Being at the financial and logistical heart of the continent, the Netherlands’ economy is particularly exposed to uncertainty emanating from Britain due to the extremely close and long-standing industrial ties between the two. In 2015, the value of financial services exchanged between the two economies was equivalent to $US23 billion (€20 billion) with Britain being the Netherlands’ second closest economic partner after Germany.
The country’s Parliament has also been vocal in its calls for the government to vigorously push for the rights of its citizens resident in the UK to be protected.