Dutch PM praises Brexit deal; Foreign Minister outlines his concerns
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte reacted positively to the news that the European Union finalized a post-Brexit agreement covering about 750 billion euros in trade annually. The deal brokered between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was made public Thursday afternoon, just one week before the end of an 11-month transition agreement that guaranteed the continuation of the EU-UK relationship once the British pulled out of the European Union on January 31.
“Excellent news that an agreement on a new EU-UK partnership has been reached after tough negotiations,” Rutte said on social media. “This is of great importance to us all. We will now study it carefully.” He also offered compliments to Von der Leyen and Michel Barnier, the chief negotiator for the European Commission, for their “tireless efforts.”
Foreign Minister Stef Blok offered similar praise, with a bit of caution. “The Netherlands, the other EU member states and the European Parliament will now carefully study the draft text. Special attention will be paid to the agreements on a level playing field between the EU and the UK, the access of Dutch fishermen to British waters and the governance of the agreement.”
Blok noted that there was very little time to review the deal, and said the Cabinet would attempt to quickly assess the situation and report to Parliament to give MPs enough time to discuss the agreement. He also said it was particularly important that the citizens, residents and businesses in the Netherlands adequately prepare for the deal to take effect on New Year’s Day.
With a deal in place, ABN Amro estimated the blow to the Dutch economy would equal about 4.5 billion euros. A no-deal Brexit could have resulted in a 17.5 billion euro hit to the economy. Even with the trade agreement, up to 18 thousand jobs could be at risk, the Dutch bank estimated, though 52 thousand more positions could have been slashed in a hard Brexit.
Johnson said that his government had accomplished something that others thought was impossible. "We have taken back control of our destiny," he said.
Von der Leyen said that "parting is such sweet sorrow," when discussing how she felt about the accord. “It was a long and winding road. But we have got a good deal to show for it. It is fair. It is a balanced deal, and it is the right and responsible thing to do for both sides.”