As Europe braces for Brexit, the Netherlands sees benefits


>>Sreenivasan: EUROPE IS
BRACING ITSELF FOR OCTOBER 31,
THE LATEST DEADLINE IN THE
ONGOING BREXIT SAGA, AND
OSTENSIBLY THE DAY THE UNITED
KINGDOM IS SCHEDULED TO LEAVE
THE EUROPEAN UNION.
IN THE MEANTIME, SEVERAL
ORGANIZATIONS AND BUSINESSES ARE
NOT WAITING TO SEE IF AND WHEN
THE U.K. WILL EXIT EUROPE;
THEY’RE ALREADY EXITING THE U.K.
CHRISTOPHER LIVESAY REPORTS
FROM ONE OF THEIR MAIN
DESTINATIONS, THE NETHERLANDS.
>>Reporter: BACK IN 2016,
WHEN THE U.K. VOTED ON BREXIT,
WHAT DID YOU THINK?
>>WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
>>Reporter: NOEËL WATHION IS
DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE EUROPEAN
MEDICINES AGENCY, WHICH IS
RESPONSIBLE FOR REGULATING
PHARMACEUTICALS IN THE EUROPEAN
UNION.
IT’S SIMILAR TO THE FOOD AND
DRUG ADMINISTRATION IN AMERICA.
AND IT USED TO BE LOCATED IN
LONDON.
THEN CAME THE U.K.’S VOTE TO
LEAVE THE E.U.
WHILE THE OUTCOME OF THE VOTE
WAS A SURPRISE, RELOCATING HIS
STAFF OF ABOUT 900 AND THEIR
FAMILIES BECAME AN IMMEDIATE
NECESSITY FOR WATHION BECAUSE BY
LAW THE E.M.A. MUST HAVE ITS
HEADQUARTERS IN AN E.U. COUNTRY.
>>WE HAD A GENERAL ASSEMBLY THE
NEXT DAY OF ALL STAFF.
I CAN TELL YOU THE ATMOSPHERE
WAS EXTREMELY DOWN.
PEOPLE… THERE WERE PEOPLE
CRYING IN THE ROOM NOT SURE WHAT
WAS GOING TO HAPPEN.
AND THEN, AS SENIOR MANAGEMENT,
WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE
SHOW LEADERSHIP AND THAT WE SAY,
“LOOK, WE ARE GOING TO OVERCOME
THIS.”
>>Reporter: THAT DAY, WATHION
SAYS HE LAUNCHED A RELOCATION
TASK FORCE.
19 E.U. CITIES BID TO HOST THE
AGENCY, AND IN NOVEMBER 2017,
THE EUROPEAN COUNCIL MADE THE
ANNOUNCEMENT: AMSTERDAM WAS
CHOSEN TO BE THE NEW
HEADQUARTERS OF THE E.M.A.
AND THIS PAST, JANUARY THE
E.M.A. OFFICIALLY CUT THE RIBBON
ON ITS NEW OFFICES.
COMPARED WITH LONDON, AMSTERDAM
IS A RELATIVELY SMALL CITY OF
UNDER A MILLION PEOPLE.
YOU CAN CROSS TOWN IN 20 MINUTES
ON A BIKE.
BUT IT HAS BOTH OLD WORLD CHARM
AND MODERN INFRASTRUCTURE, WHICH
WAS ESSENTIAL TO THE E.M.A.
>>WE HAVE THOUSANDS OF EXPERTS
TRAVELING ON A MONTHLY BASIS TO
US.
WE NEED GOOD CONNECTIONS, WE
NEED GOOD PUBLIC TRANSPORT, WE
NEED GOOD HOTEL ACCOMMODATION.
SO THIS WAS PART OF THE LIST OF
REQUIREMENTS THAT WE HAD PUT IN
ADDITION TO WHAT WE NEEDED AS
FACILITIES, AS A BUILDING IN
ORDER TO OPERATE.
>>Reporter: THEY ALSO NEEDED
HOMES FOR STAFF, LIKE SCIENTIFIC
ADMINISTRATOR ESTHER MARTINEZ.
SHE HAD BEEN LIVING AND WORKING
IN LONDON FOR SEVEN YEARS WHEN
THE BREXIT VOTE HAPPENED.
>>I’M A FIRM BELIEVER IN THE
EUROPEAN UNION AND WORKING
TOGETHER AND BEING UNITED AND
HAVING THAT DIVERSITY OF
NATIONALITIES MAKES IT SO RICH
THAT I WAS SAD WHEN I FOUND OUT
THAT THE U.K. VOTED TO LEAVE.
SO THIS IS ACTUALLY MY
NEIGHBORHOOD.
>>Reporter: SHE’S GETTING USED
TO LIFE IN AMSTERDAM, THE GOOD
AND BAD.
APARTMENTS TEND TO BE SMALL,
PARKING DIFFICULT, AND SHE’S
STILL LEARNING THE LANGUAGE.
BUT SHE LOVES THE CAFE CULTURE,
THE TRAMS THAT MAKE IT EASY TO
GET TO WORK AND, OF COURSE, THE
BIKES.
>>THE HARDEST THING IS TO GO
THROUGH ALL THE PAPERWORK THAT
YOU NEED TO GO THROUGH TO MOVE.
OPENING THE BANK ACCOUNT, PAYING
YOUR TAXES, UNDERSTANDING HOW
ALL THAT WORKS IN THE
NETHERLANDS, BUT WE DID ACTUALLY
HAVE HELP.
>>Reporter: HELP FROM A COMPANY
THE CITY OF AMSTERDAM HIRED AS
PART OF ITS PITCH TO HOST THE
E.M.A.
ROZ FREMDER IS THE OWNER AND
SAYS HER FIRM HAS DOUBLED IN
SIZE SINCE THE BREXIT VOTE.
>>BREXIT IS DEFINITELY GOOD FOR
THE RELOCATION BUSINESS.
I WOULD SAY 80% OF THE PRIVATE
INDIVIDUALS THAT CONTACT US
RIGHT NOW ARE FROM THE U.K.
AND ALSO ABOUT 40% OF THE
CORPORATES COMING IN ARE LOOKING
TO ESTABLISH, IF NOT RELOCATE
THEIR ENTIRE COMPANIES FROM THE
U.K. TO THE NETHERLANDS, AT
LEAST ESTABLISH A PRESENCE HERE.
>>Reporter: THERE’S BEEN A KIND
OF BREXODUS OF CORPORATIONS AND
INDIVIDUALS FLEEING THE U.K.
AND ALMOST 100 BUSINESSES HAVE
ALREADY SHIFTED OFFICES AND JOBS
TO THE NETHERLANDS.
THE BRITISH HAVE BEEN DEBATING
FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS– EVER
SINCE THE REFERENDUM– ABOUT HOW
TO LEAVE THE E.U.
AN AGREEMENT HAMMERED OUT EARLY
ON WAS VOTED DOWN BY PARLIAMENT,
THE DEADLINE EXTENDED FROM LAST
MARCH TO OCTOBER 31, JUST A
COUPLE OF WEEKS AWAY.
BUT STILL THERE IS NO NEW
AGREEMENT.
THE BRITISH PARLIAMENT RECENTLY
PASSED A LAW REQUIRING THE
GOVERNMENT NOT TO LEAVE THE E.U.
WITHOUT A DEAL, FEARING ECONOMIC
CHAOS AND CONCERNS OVER TRADE,
TAXES, AND THE BORDER.
IT’S ALL CAST A CLOUD OF
UNCERTAINTY OVER THE OTHER 27
E.U. MEMBER STATES.
THE DUTCH DON’T WANT THE U.K. TO
LEAVE, BUT THEY ARE MAKING THE
BEST OF THE SITUATION, SAYS
COMMISSIONER OF THE NETHERLANDS
FOREIGN INVESTMENT AGENCY,
JEROEN NIJLAND.
>>WE ARE STRATEGICALLY LOCATED
IN THIS BIG EUROPEAN MARKET,
WHICH IS THE SECOND BIGGEST
MARKET IN THE WORLD.
SO MANY COMPANIES COME HERE
BECAUSE THEY USE THE NETHERLANDS
AS AN ENTRY POINT INTO THAT
EUORPEAN MARKET.
BUSINESSES FEEL THAT THIS A VERY
GOOD BASE FOR THEIR OPERATIONS.
OUR WORKFORCE IS HIGHLY EDUCATED
AND MULTILINGUAL.
>>Reporter: IN FACT, ENGLISH IS
ALMOST UNIVERSAL HERE.
MORE THAN 90% OF THE DUTCH SPEAK
AT LEAST TWO LANGUAGES, WELL
ABOVE THE E.U. AVERAGE OF ABOUT
50%.
AS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, ROTTERDAM
IS HOME TO THE BIGGEST HARBOR IN
EUROPE.
AND AMSTERDAM’S SCHIPHOL AIRPORT
IS THE THIRD BUSIEST IN EUROPE,
WITH DOZENS OF DIRECT
CONNECTIONS TO OTHER E.U.
CAPITALS.
BUT THE NETHERLANDS IS NOT THE
ONLY EUROPEAN COUNTRY WOOING
BUSINESSES FROM THE U.K.
ONE OF ITS CHIEF COMPETITORS IS
FRANCE.
NOTABLY, PARIS HAS LANDED
ANOTHER E.U. AGENCY, THE
EUROPEAN BANKING AUTHORITY.
THEN THERE ARE GERMANY AND
IRELAND: DOZENS OF BANKS AND
OTHER FINANCIAL COMPANIES HAVE
MOVED SHOP FROM THE U.K. OR
LONDON TO FRANKFURT AND DUBLIN.
ALL TOLD, MORE THAN A TRILLION
DOLLARS WORTH OF ASSETS HAS
ALREADY BEEN SENT OUT OF THE
U.K. BECAUSE OF BREXIT.
AND NIJLAND SAYS THE PACE OF
MOVEMENT IS INCREASING AS THE
OCTOBER 31 DEADLINE IMPOSED BY
THE E.U. NEARS.
BESIDES THE 100 COMPANIES WHICH
HAVE MOVED TO THE NETHERLANDS
ALREADY, APPROXIMATELY 325
OTHERS HAVE REACHED OUT TO THE
DUTCH.
>>THE LATEST FIGURE WE HAVE ON
FRANCE IS THAT THEY ARE TALKING
TO 250 BUSINESSES, LUXEMBOURG
80, AND BELGIUM 100, SO I THINK
COMPARED TO THE OTHER COUNTRIES,
WE ARE DOING QUITE WELL.
>>Reporter: BUT BREXIT IS A
DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD FOR THE
NETHERLANDS.
75% OF ITS EXPORTS, INCLUDING
FOOD AND FLOWERS, ARE DESTINED
FOR THE U.K. MARKET.
IF NEW POST-BREXIT TARIFFS ARE
IMPOSED ON THOSE GOODS, THEY
WOULD DRIVE UP PRICES.
>>A LOT OF COMPANIES WHO MOVED
FROM THE U.K. TO THE
NETHERLANDS, AND IN THAT RESPECT
ITS GOOD FOR OUR ECONOMY, OF
COURSE, BUT WE AS A TRANSPORT
COMPANY CAN ONLY LOSE ON IT.
>>Reporter: PAUL SMIT IS SALES
MANAGER AT A TRUCKING COMPANY,
WHICH DOES 70% OF ITS BUSINESS
WITH THE U.K.
SMIT PREDICTS CONFUSION AND
CHAOS AT THE PORTS WHERE HIS
TRUCKS CROSS BACK AND FORTH TO
ENGLAND BY FERRY.
HE EXPLAINED HOW A NO-DEAL
BREXIT IN PARTICULAR WOULD
AFFECT HIS DAILY BUSINESS IF
SHIPMENTS SUDDENLY GET STUCK IN
CUSTOMS.
>>Reporter: WHAT’S THE
SITUATION LIKE RIGHT NOW?
>>YOU CAN EASILY CALL US ‘TIL 3
OCLOCK TODAY, WE CAN LOAD
TOMORROW, AND THE DAY AFTER IT’S
IN THE U.K.
>>Reporter: SO IT PRETTY SOUNDS
EASY.
>>IT IS.
>>Reporter: WHAT DO YOU PREDICT
IS GOING TO BE THE CASE IF
BREXIT BECOMES A REALITY?
>>IT’S GOING TO ADD ONE DAY TO
THE TRANSPORT TIME.
BUT IN THE BEGINNING IT’S NOT
GOING WORK SO IT’S GONNA ADD
FOUR, FIVE, SIX DAYS.
WE THINK, WHEN THERE IS A HARD
BREXIT, IT WILL COME TO A SORT
OF STANDSTILL WHERE NOBODY KNOWS
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN.
ALL THIS WILL BECOME MORE
DIFFICULT AND MORE COSTLY, AND
WHO IS GOING TO PAY IN THE END?
>>Reporter: IT’S STILL TOO
EARLY IN THE BREXIT PROCESS FOR
THE FULL EFFECTS, POSITIVE AND
NEGATIVE, TO BE SEEN.
THE EUROPEAN MEDICINES AGENCY’S
NOEL WATHION EXPECTS MORE GOOD
NEWS FOR THE NETHERLANDS SINCE
HUNDREDS OF COMPANIES THAT
CONSULT WITH THE E.M.A. WILL
LIKELY CONSIDER ESTABLISHING
THEMSELVES IN AMSTERDAM TO BE
CLOSE TO THE E.M.A.
AND IN ANY CASE, HE SAYS,
WHATEVER HAPPENS, THE E.M.A. IS
IN THE NETHERLANDS TO STAY.
>>Reporter: AS WE SIT HERE NOW,
BREXIT IS STILL NOT A REALITY.
IN THE MEANWHILE, YOU’VE
RELOCATED THE AGENCY HERE, 900
STAFF MEMBERS HERE.
WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO IF
BREXIT, IN FACT, DOESN’T EVER
BECOME A REALITY?
>>THAT DECISION WAS TAKEN TO
RELOCATE.
WE HAVE RELOCATED AND WE WILL BE
STAYING HERE.

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