Netherlands’ preparations for Brexit in the spotlight during EU visit

On 29 March 2019 – in 200 days’ time – the United Kingdom will leave the European Union. Brexit can have major consequences for trade between the UK and mainland Europe.

With the deadline coming close, ‘businesses need to make sure they are prepared,’ Dutch trade minister Sigrid Kaag said last week. To keep trade moving as smoothly as possible and to limit border delays as much as possible post Brexit, the Netherlands is taking various steps to prepare.

These preparations took center stage during today’s visit by EU officials to the port of Rotterdam. As the largest and most advanced port in the EU, Rotterdam serves as the gateway to Europe.

The officials are Member State representatives from the art. 50 working group, which works closely with the team of Michel Barnier, who is responsible for the EU’s negotiations with the United Kingdom. The group has previously visited the ports of Antwerp and Calais.

The officials met with the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Dutch Customs, the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA), and the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate. Each organisation presented possible scenarios for border controls post Brexit.

Currently, Dutch authorities conduct integrated checks on goods imported from outside the EU in the State Inspection Terminal. In the absence of a deal, goods being transported to and from the United Kingdom will also be subject to these checks.

Right now, cucumbers sold at auction can be transported to British consumers without checks. So a cucumber ordered at 8.00 will be in the shops by 16.00. In a no-deal future, a supply chain that fast will no longer be available to British supermarkets.