Meeting the King of the Netherlands

Shaun Lowthorpe

Whether or not Brexit happens on October 31 this year, at some point our future relationship with our European trading partners needs to be resolved.

The Netherlands is just a short flight away from us here in Norfolk and the ties between this area and the Dutch go back generations. Re-inforcing those ties has been a key objecitve of several business-related organisations of late including New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, The East of England Energy Group, and indeed Norfolk and Suffolk County Councils.

But what happens now? Last year, i was among a group of journalists invited to discover more about the Netherlands and also find out first hand about what they think about our bi-lateral relations including trade and also military co-operation.

It was also a chance to see some really innovative work in areas from advanced robotics at Delft University, Sustainable transport initiatives, counter-terrorism initiatives from local police forces, as well as pioneering projects to bring a generation of younger people into the world of horticulture.

There were some brilliant initiatives, which we could do well to learn from here in Norfolk.

But if our formal EU relationship is to disappear - and that is a matter of deep regret to our Dutch cousins - could business and even civic society step in and bridge the gap? Indeed, could our departure actually strengthen movements such as local twinning societies and co-operatiion such as that between Norfolk Chamber and it's Anglo-Dutch equivalent?

As someone with an interest in business publishing in particular, I sense an opportunity around creating a virtual content community around Anglo-Dutch businesses, if enough interest was there, and the right funding model could be found to support it. That was indeed one of my interests in finding out more.

Also, I was fortunate to take part in an audience with King-Willem Alexander himself which you can read about here.

From the military perspective there is quite a different take - Brexit or not - it will not make any difference to our close levels of co-operation - at least that was what Brig General Jeff R Mac Mootry, Director of Operations Royal Netherlands Navy and Commandant General Royal Netherlands Marine Corps told me here.

Yet whatever the geopolitics developing and maintaining those close commercial, cultural and economic ties is something we can all commit too.


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