Official, authoritative Dutch government calculations: “Every Dutch citizen stand to lose 1000 euros through a Brexit”


The morning papers in the Netherlands and NOS (our BBC)  all reported last week on a report of the government’s Centraal Plan Bureau (CPB = Central Planning Office, authoritative since its start in the late 1940’s like your IFS; they seldom are far off the mark in their predictions). I base this piece on articles in De Volkskrant (our Guardian) and Financiele Dagblad (equivalent of the Financial Times) and the NOS news website. It makes for worrisome reading.

The immediate effect of a Brexit is, according to the report, that it will cost 1.2% of GDP by 2030, that is, 575 euro per Dutch citizen. Indirect consequences like loss of innovation because of lower trade can increase that by 65%, to 1000 euro each. The damage will be sector specific; the most seriously affected (around 5% loss) will be

  • the chemical sector (that is for example DSM, and our petrochemical sector near Rotterdam);
  • electronics (Philips, just now specializing in expensive medical technologies);
  • food processing (our emblematic dairy industry: Friesland Foods and our extensive chicken and pork breeding industry; in Brabant province there are more pigs than humans).

This damage will only be limited (20% lower) when we get the new free trade treaty between Britain and the EU; but Brussels will delay that to deter further exits by member states (and Benelux pleas not to delay will crash into Mediterranean unwillingness to budge, the CPB predicts). And negotiating such a trade deal can only start after negotiating the British exit, which will take 2 years. So the Dutch will be faced with an extensive period of even greater insecurity than we already experience (companies wanting to enter the stock exchange hurry to do so before the Brexit Referendum date).

According to the CPB, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and Malta have more intensive trade relations with the UK than other EU member states.

  • The Economist has already talked about the impact of Brexit on Irish/Ulster/UK relations;
  • Malta could give back its Victoria Cross dearly earned in 1940-’45;
  • The emotional Belgians (their strikes, like the French, often turn into massive street riots, especially in Wallonia) won’t take such economic loss lying down either.
  • Faced with hits to our emblematic, flagship industries, and losses destroying our just starting economic growth and employment resurging to heights of around 2014 won’t make the Dutch happy either.

The International Trade Research department of ING bank, one of three “Dutch “system banks”, said earlier that 3.7% of Dutch GDP depends on demand from Britain; 300,000 jobs (3.3% of our employment) depend on that.

My conclusion: Britain will have some very frustrated, angry neighbours and old friends; and the Irish, Dutch and Belgians won’t have travel far to let their feelings know to the European institutions.

* Dr. Bernard Aris is a historian, a D66 parliamentary researcher and a LibDem supporting member.

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  • Richard Underhill 13th Jun '16 - 12:00pm

    Please note that this comment is in English. Dutch people often display multiple language skills to a high standard as we saw at our conference when we gave a standing ovation after a well informed and brilliant speech from D66.

  • “Malta could give back its Victoria Cross dearly earned in 1940-’45”

    This I doubt very, very much (and to clarify it was the George Cross that was awarded in 1942 by King George the VI) not least because they would have to also change their flag on which it appears. The cross was awarded for the collective bravery and they are rightly proud of it.

    The closeness of ties between Malta and the UK will remain regardless. The number of UK tourists to Malta almost double those of the next highest nation and make up just under 1/3 of the total number. I was fortunate in my first career (in the armed forces) to visit on a number of occasions and have never felt as welcomed in another European country.

    I would contend that the Government of Malta, even if upset at a Brexit, would not wish to risk reducing UK tourism.

  • I can’t see how scaremongering the Dutch, is going to help the Remain cause, so I must assume that it’s the final paragraph which is the essence of this article. And the final paragraph basically says,..’Don’t P155 off the Dutch,.. or else…!.?’
    Sadly, Cameron tried this disgusting threat tactic with British pensioners on the Sunday Marr Show. It came over as a sour and frantic ‘ Vote Remain or the Werthers Originals get it…..!”
    So is Bernard now threatening us all with a kind of “.. You dare Vote Brexit, and you can kiss your fresh tulips goodbye…” ?
    Whatever this confused article hopes to achieve,.. for sure, Bernard clearly has no clue about the British and how we respond to threats.

  • We surrender the ability to govern ourselves because the Dutch may lose some business from the UK. Oh dear.

  • Conor McGovern 13th Jun '16 - 1:12pm

    David, why have sovereignty when you can have money? !!

  • Paul Murray 13th Jun '16 - 3:04pm

    Cass Business School at City University has just released an analysis of the Treasury’s GDP forecasts in the event of Brexit.

    The title might indicate their opinion the Treasury report: “Measurement without Theory: On the extraordinary abuse of economic models in the EU referendum debate”.

    The report concludes: “The Treasury’s application of gravity and VAR models to assess whether the UK would be better in or out of the EU confirms John Kenneth Galbraith’s dictum that ‘The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable'”

  • Bill le Breton 13th Jun '16 - 4:09pm

    Bernard, if, and it is still a big if, the UK votes to leave the EU on Thursday, it would help if the leader of your party and the Dutch Government released an immediate statement that it was backing the UK’s permission to join the EEA. And that they would resist any calls from EU members for tariffs against UK goods and services.

    This would greatly settle any market ‘wobbles’.

    If enough EU member leaders did this on Friday morning then Dutch people might actually be better off in 2030 than they would be otherwise.

    The EEA route would be equally beneficial for your country. You should look at it carefully. The four freedoms + the freedom to go for universal free trade, the end the depressive effect of a fixed exchange rate system that endeavours to set the same exchange rate for countries as diverse as economically diverse as Greece, Spain, Italy, Holland, Austria and Germany. In short, economic recovery, after 8 years of Europe’s ‘lost decade’

  • Bill le Breton 13th Jun '16 - 4:19pm

    And of course Paul, the second Treasury report fails to include an analysis of the EEA option even though in the key for one of the graphs plotting future GDP there is a space for the EEA option – which appears blank !!!!

    Talk about redacting any inconvenient data! The one option that blows the Treasury case has been conveniently erased.

    Bernard, it would be interesting to know from you whether the CPB report includes an analysis of the effects on the Dutch economy of the UK being a member of the EEA?

  • @Bill le Breton – You are overlooking the simple fact that the EEA route would require the existing members of the EU and EFTA to agree to amend the membership rules of the EEA, to allow the UK to become a member of the EEA… I don’t know what the voting ratio is between EU and EFTA members, but if it is one vote per member country then I doubt the EU members will make it easy for the UK to leave the EU and join the EEA…

  • Bill le Breton 13th Jun '16 - 7:47pm

    think it may be QMV Roland.

    You persist in doubting, but I persist in believing sense will prevail.

    The most influential players in EU will want UK as ‘in’ as possible which would with a leave vote be EEA. In the single market. No danger of a tariff war – with UK buying about £100 billion more from EU members than they do from UK.

    The real campaign will be using the nearly four years that remain in this Parliament to get significant progress for the EEA-ers collectively to win the 2020 GE.

    But then that is why I think that Liberals across the EU need to be using their influence to get their governments to OK the EEA route for the UK AND to start campaigning in their countries to join this ‘movement’.

    A leave vote will be the earthquake that actually gets reform in Europe. Stronger and wider economic union, an end to the political union dream that is feeding the Right and through monetary mismanagement keeping EU economies in near permanent depression.

  • Bernard, I’m very sorry you posted your message which I believe to be totally counter-productive, and I say that as someone who has already voted remain.

    You should know by now from history that British people don’t respond to threats. A post of ‘we need you’ would have been more sensible.

    In fact the usual response to threats is quite the opposite. Given my own father’s RAF service when he risked his life on many occasions in the liberation of France, Belgium and Holland – (he shared his rations with local Dutch families and was decorated by France) in 1944/45 and my father-in-law’s service based in Malta in the Royal Navy, it was misguided and rather insulting to their memory to talk about returning a Victoria Cross (which it wasn’t – it was the George Cross).

    I hope LDV can hide your post somewhere because it will increase the leave vote rather than increase the remain vote, and I’m surprised they published it as an effective message.

  • Bernard Aris 13th Jun '16 - 8:09pm

    First about scaremongering or telling facts.

    Is my name Trump, Farage or Boris and do I use blatant racism and muslim-baiting to scare the beejeebers out of you with an “Orlando” poster? And do I, like them, deny solid facts because the emotion of my movement feels good?
    I beg to differ; I’m putting some simple, objective facts to you about what
    *) our king (and therefore 80% of our parliament and parties; otherwise you would have heard about a king being berated; our prince William III installed parliamentary oversight over monarchs in England, and our liberal 1848 written constitution made it permanent here),
    *) our best economic, monetary and budget planners and forecasters (CPB) and ING Bank (which by the way als contains the remains of your venerable Barings Bank) are telling the Netherlands and the world abouit Brexit consequences.
    The British, like the Dutch, are traders and thus pragmatists; so these facts should interest them.
    I’m not exactly sure if having kicked us in the shins with a Brexit (after having us contribute to Thatchers massive EU rebate for Britain for 30 Years) is the best starting position for London to ask the Dutch to let them off easy in transition to the EEA.

    Remember, the 1000 euro’s a Dutchman {total: 10 billion} loss is 33% of the total amount of government cuts we suffered since 2012, just when things appeared to start looking up. It’s like the Tories trebling the Bedroom tax beside the social cuts your social affairs minister I.D. Smith resigned about because they were too much:
    *) a bolt out of the blue hitting the Dutch who always supported London in cutting EU red tape, especially for SME’s (our Euro-Commissioner Timmermans’ main task this term).

    Rewarding your friends that isn’t, but you would like a EEU transition bonus please…

  • @ Bernard “Is my name Trump, Farage or Boris and do I use blatant racism and muslim-baiting to scare the beejeebers out of you with an “Orlando” poster?”

    No, and neither is mine………. but talking about VC’s (really a GC) was a pretty cheap shot. It cost my Dad a lot more than 1,000 miserable euros in 1944/45 and he asked for nothing in return, so change the record..

  • Bernard Aris 13th Jun '16 - 8:23pm

    About what loss the Dutch EU-facilitated co-operation would be to the Britons daily life…
    Let me use an example very dear to every Britons heart.
    If I’m not very much mistaken, Dutch flower growers and horticulturalists got glowing reviews when they participated in the Royal Chelsea Flower Show just now in London. The innovations and inventiveness of Dutch florists and horticulturalists would be sorely missed if they weren’t able to be shown at following Chelsea Flower shows.
    According to George Orwell (Lion & the Unicorn, part One, par. II), the British love to see their gardens (and the gardening industry) prosper… so enlightened self-interset says: don’t make Dutch participation harder by creating first years of uncertainty, and then trade impediments which go against the grain of any party formed out of the Anti Corn Law League… You would also make Alan Titchmarch and his fans very unhappy…

    And what goes for Dutch gardening firms goes for
    • the French (the country of Le Notre and Jacques Tati’s modern gardens (film: “Mon Oncle),
    • the Italians (Villa Borghese gardens),
    • the Japanese,
    because both the EU and all its main trading (and gardening) partners would have to negotiate new trade deals.
    And nobody can deny (The Economist affirms) that the European Commission isn’t in a mood toe let the British Brexiteers get a speedy, let alone a positive or even neutral deal. So years of international insecurity will hit the gardening world as well..

    If my economics so far did not impress you, perhaps this will make you sit up and notice.

  • Bernard Aris 13th Jun '16 - 8:28pm

    @ David Raw.

    OK, i don’t know how I can erase it from my original tekst (in the days of “The Name of the Rose” they scrubbed it off and named it a palimsest), but let me withdraw it with fullsome, unreserved excuses tho whomsoever I may have unwittingly offended.

  • Bernard Aris 13th Jun '16 - 8:29pm

    *) read “Apoligies” for excuses…

  • @Bernard
    Sorry but why would Dutch Florists be banned from Chelsea, they have exhibits from around the world ? The one and only time I went there were a number form the Far East..

    Your responses seem to have fallen into the trap of so many who support remain (which incidentally I have already voted to do) of coming over as a threat. I will give you one overriding reason why there will be reciprocal trade deals post any Brexit. To do otherwise would harm the remaining EU Countries as much, if not more than the UK. A tit for tat trade war would harm the major manufacturers of the EU more than the UK (although both would be huge losers).

    You need to remember that in almost every area of the trade of goods we operate at a deficit to the remainder of the EU. The problem won’t be the negotiations with the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France etc will need the trade to continue. The problem will be what you (the rich countries of the EU) will have to cede to the non-exporting nations to ensure they do not veto any trade agreements.

    I have already voted to remain in the EU but I know my fellow countrymen. One thing that is absolutely certain in my mind is that if people continue to tell them they will be punished for voting a certain way, a huge number will be more likely to do so.

  • Imagine, if you will, any positives from the EU Commission delaying a deal. I can give some specific and easy examples of why they wont. There will be others showing that we will lose out but I cannot so easily find those figures.

    1. If starved of access to reasonably priced German, French and Spanish cars the UK consumers will look elsewhere. Germany is the biggest contributor in the EU but only because it’s economy is so buoyant. The loss of UK car sales will not destroy their economy but it would leave a hole in 2014 the UK accounted for 20% of German produced car sales (820,000 cars).

    2. Sales in New World Wines will rise if access to Italian and French wines were to become more difficult or expensive (the UK is the 6th largest wine consumer in the world) . Four of the top ten Countries we import wine from are currently EU States.

    3. Spain would not want to see UK tourists penalised, nor would Italy (where I holiday with my German and Dutch friends each year), France, Portugal etc especially with the deals now available to destinations such as Florida etc. Now you could counter that the tourist trade wouldn’t be targeted by the EU. I would answer that the UK could put a tax on EU holidays in any trade war. It would be a huge bargaining chip if things turned as nasty as your scenario contends.

    4. We like our food and 27% of it currently comes from the rest of the EU, far more than we export the other way. The leading foreign suppliers were the
    Netherlands (5.6%), Spain (5.1%), France (3.1%), Germany (3.1%) and Irish Republic (3.0%). Do you want to lose the chance to sell us 5.6% of the food we eat? What would you do with all those Chickens and Pigs if they were suddenly too costly for UK consumers?

  • Bernard Aris 14th Jun '16 - 2:34am

    First three points and then a historical example of the disruption I fear.
    First point: I’m not saying Dutch florists will be banned from Chelsea (nor any other Dutch exporter from his/her trade shows and events). I’m saying the currency insecurities and trade insecurities which will arise promptly after a Brexit vote will make those exporters wonder if it is safe to export and trade as if nothing had happened. Entrepreneurs having to deal with currency fluctuations like the CEO of Emirates Airlines is warning about that, as I quoted in an earlier piece.
    Second point: with the summer holidays coming up and the EU employees and functionaries trade unions being what they are (Belgian, so “I’m Allright Jack”-wedded to their privileges and fixed holidays), the staff of the EU commission will be depleted in July and August, or at least diminished. That means the Brussels bureaucracy, even if it has some scenario’s and treaty concept texts prepared, will not be as agile as usual in dealing with high-pressure negotiations to secure quick fixes to get EEA access and the rest of it. And it is Brussels doing the negotiating and presenting the (interim and definite) results to the member countries. Reckon with some hickups and delays there.
    Third point: even before any trade war will commence (we’re not living in Napoleons Continental System days of nations shutting each other off), the internal operations and cash flows of for example Dutch-British multinationals like ING/Barings, ICI/AKZO Nobel, Shell, Unilever, Billiton (started by Dutch in the Dutch East Indies) and others will be thrown into turmoil because no manager can foresee what exactly is going to happen. The “World being flat” (Thomas Friedman) and in- and outsourcing making production flows, who does what when, and how everybody will get paid into a spaghetti of dizzying complexity, will be disrupted if the Pound and/or Euro devalues sharply on one day, rebounds on the next and goes haywire on the third. The Dutch stock exchange already is in an anxious state with other factors beside Brexit; God only knows how that will pan out on the day after.

  • Bernard Aris 14th Jun '16 - 2:53am

    To quote an analogy of how quickly and thoroughly things can get out of hand; when the tussle for power between the Heath government and the trade unions (Arthur Scargills emotional NUM in the front) escalated in 1973-4 (see: A. Sked & Chris Cook, Post-War Britain (,,) 1945-1992; Penguin Books, London, 1993, p. 281-5), existing British regulations impeded quick-fix compromises being implemented to alleviate the situation. So January 1, 1974 saw a three day working week introduced. I talked about that (a year ago) to our Dutch ambassador in London at that time; he was stil flabbergasted that society was thrown into turmoil so fast (November/december’73).
    I mean, we think we got it all well regulated and planned, but the Northern Rock, Lehman Brothers collapses; and recently those of highstreet institutions like DHS (Britain) or V&D (Dutch) taught us otherwise. The Dutch government had to bail out 3 of the 4 “System {commercial} Banks” of the Netherlands in a hurry; ABN AMRO bank remains split up and amputated; and many city highstreets have a gaping hole where V&D used to be. And other wellknown chains go out of business or are decidedly wobbly; Brexit insecurity could do it for them…

  • When I am in a hurry, I read only postings by members flagged up.
    Few and far between on many subjects.

  • Bernard Thank you, Apology accepted with best wishes to you. David….

  • Jayne Mansfield 14th Jun '16 - 9:38am

    @ Joan Hand,
    Given that you have, in the recent past, had a leadership that seemed uninterested even in the views of its membership, that is an advance.

    It is an attitude that explains the degree of shock that the party experienced at the last General election. The sad thing is, that this party should have come into its own during this referendum, but it has lost a great deal of its power to persuade because people are less likely to listen.

    Instead, the Remain campaign is run by someone who according to the polls was viewed as the most popular leader, and he has now descended into panic mode with the issuing of threats. He can’t even control his own party, many of them who have shown themselves to be more UKIP fellow travellers than Tories.

  • Richard Sangster 14th Jun '16 - 9:42am

    If the Dutch Government are right, we are in for a lot worse drop in living standards.

  • @Bill le Breton (13th Jun ’16 – 7:47pm)
    You persist in doubting, but I persist in believing sense will prevail.

    I doubt because I remember the UK’s application to the EEC; common sense among the EEC members, only seemed to prevail after the death of de Gaulle and the UK’s negotiators had agreed to hand over our fishing grounds among other things. I’m sure there are other examples, in more recent times of just how good (not) Westminster has been when negotiating in the national interest…

    So I’m not convinced that BREXIT would result in any show of sense prevailing in any reasonable timeframe.

    A leave vote will be the earthquake that actually gets reform in Europe.
    Yes, it may well have that effect; however, it would leave the UK on the outside and not on the inside and hence having no part to play in defining what those reforms might be. However, a referendum on any treaty changes originating from the EU, as originally talked about prior to the 2010 general election, would have enabled the UK to be at the table and leading the enactment of reforms…

  • Bill le Breton 14th Jun '16 - 3:19pm

    Roland – they dare not have anything that requires a Treaty change because they would lose a string of referenda across their member states – the elite cannot reform this moribund organisation. It is in catch 22 situation – change can only come if each member can carry 50.0001% of its population. And there are few that can achieve that. So no reform. Just gradual death as each member’s political institutions are taken over by the their political right.

    Everyone that does not want to go for the full-on political union will have to go the EEA route. And that is not a bad thing. It is a liberal solution based on free trade, a widening single market, but not a deepening union.

  • Bernard Aris 15th Jun '16 - 3:10pm

    Oh, sure, EEA is heaven on earth, and the EU is hell.

    Small example: according to Dutch press reports (De Telegraaf Newspaper, 9th of June 2016), China has slyly increased its steel output again (against promises not to do so), and is flooding the world market with the bottom end (=bad quality) steel it doesn’t want for inland consumption/building.
    In the EEA, everybody is on his own in such cases (or you have that monster or mobster, the Common European Market with tonnes of regulation, back; that’s NOT taking control), so the resurrected British Steel which badly needs solid costumers to survive , would in this case be surprised to find its British market spoiled with masses of cheep Chinese steel.
    In the EU and Common Market you have Brussel to signal what is going on and stop such bad products ever reachting EU shores; but in te EEA it is every state for its own, so market surprises like the illegal Chines production and export increase would be a nasty shock.
    If you love nasty market shocks, vote LEAVE; if not, vote REMAIN.

  • David Allen 15th Jun '16 - 4:27pm

    “I will give you one overriding reason why there will be reciprocal trade deals post any Brexit. To do otherwise would harm the remaining EU Countries as much, if not more than the UK.”

    Yes but – Trade deals can be, and often are, biased in favour of the side which holds more of the cards. That will be the side which doesn’t have to blink first. It is not very important, in that context, that the continental EU exports somewhat more to Britain than we export to them. It is critical, in that context, that nearly 50% of our exports are to the continental EU while only about 10% of their exports are to Britain. If there was no deal, the continental EU could cope, but we would be in a terrible state. Therefore, we would have to blink first. Therefore, we would get far inferior deals to the deal we have now.

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