Bourgeois meets with British Brexit minister


The Flemish minister-president met yesterday with one of the junior ministers in charge of Brexit to discuss the impact on both the UK and Flanders

‘Extremely important trading partner’

Flemish minister-president Geert Bourgeois held a meeting in Brussels yesterday with David Jones, a junior minister in the British government’s department created to arrange the UK’s departure from the European Union.

The meeting had been arranged in London last month, but had to be postponed to allow Bourgeois to return to Brussels in the midst of the crisis over the signing of the Ceta trade pact with Canada.

The two ministers discussed the historically strong ties between Flanders and the UK, as well as the impact Brexit could have on both economies. Bourgeois, unlike many leaders in Europe, has always argued for maintaining the best possible post-Brexit relations with the UK.

“The United Kingdom is an extremely important trading partner for Flanders: It is our fourth-largest export market, and approximately 87% of the trade between Belgium and the UK originates from Flanders,” he said. “It is crucial that the trade across the Channel continues to flourish.”

And he repeated his view that negotiations on the UK’s departure should focus on developing a new sort of partnership. “It is of vital importance for Flanders that the ties with the UK remain strong and open, on an economic, cultural and scientific level, as well as a personal level,” he said.

In January, the Flemish representation in London is organising a round table on the impact of Brexit on Flanders, attended by, among others, employers’ federations, agricultural associations and representatives of the Flemish ports.

Photo: Geert Bourgeois (left) hosted David Jones shake hands for a bilateral meeting in Brussels

©Bruno Fahy/BELGA