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Brexit and the Netherlands

November 2nd, 2016

In the dawn of the Brexit, it is mostly emotions taking over the internet, the traditional media and the political talks — seemingly, all over the world. If, however, you have lived long enough in the Netherlands and with the Dutch, immediately after the initial shock you will already be calculating (probably while riding an overpacked NS train from work to home) how Britain’s exit will benefit the country you now call home.

What might be the direct profits from this, surely, historical moment, and how is Brexit good for the Netherlands?

1. A stronger euro

Almost immediately after the final results of the referendum were announced, the otherwise strong British pound plundered. Britons and expats on the island were posting in horror statuses for the devaluation of their salaries with lightning speed. Reports from vacationing Brits on how they were refused a pound to euro/dollar exchange or ATM withdrawal followed. In return, the part of the world not directly affected by the pound meltdown rushed to online shopping and crashed several online shops. Clearly, the euro is gaining momentum — and will increasingly do so, should a Brexit be realized in practice. The common European currency will no longer be in the shadow of the Big British Brother, which will immediately affect the economy of the Netherlands — a more expensive (by value) domestic currency always means a richer state and people.

Pound vs Euro the past week, and the Pound continues to drop

2. The port of Rotterdam

For as much as the mainland continent, in fact, ends at Scheveningen, history, politics and culture taught us to accept the shores of Britain as an integral part of Europe. Brits were OK with it a little more than the rest — their enormous ports generate an income, very possibly equal to the GDP of several smaller EU members combined! In a future world, in which the EU does not include England, this whole money machine will naturally be redirected to the nearest spot that offers capacity, proper political orientation and security. And there cannot be a better choice than Rotterdam! The booming port of the Netherlands will gladly embrace the extra work! And Schiphol will profit as well, now heavily fighting the competition of Heathrow and Frankfurt.

3. Multinationals moving offices

Much like in the case of international trade (ports and airports), multinational companies do not want to be left in the hands of common voters and the uncertainty of a prospective #Brext. If before the 23rd of June it was a matter of necessity and prestige to have your European office and/or HQ in London, after this important date, a joke, quite close to reality, has been circulating around the internet:

Due to the recent announcements of banks shifting some of their operations to Dublin, Paris and Frankfurt, The City will be officially renamed The Village.

Should the process of Brexit continue, it is Amsterdam that should first offer a helping hand and a new home for high-end operations in the billions, along with their masterminds. For pretty much the same reasons as with the port or the airport, making use of a powerful advantage – the widespread use of English language — is certainly extremely helpful for the possible movers in order to get used to the new environment with as little culture shock as possible.

Amsterdam Zuidas, the financial district

4. Universities

We have so far been talking about money because money makes the world go round – nevertheless, money also needs people. Educated people. From the perspective of the rest of Europe, the UK’s universities are a top choice in many ways — plenty of specializations and places to study, a tradition of higher education and no language issues both while studying and in everyday life (English tops the chart of widespread languages). Currently, EU citizens enjoy a ‘university fee’ in the UK, more or less equivalent to the fees in many other European states. British diplomas are recognized everywhere across the EU. According to statistics, many graduates remain in the UK after finishing their studies, as they are able to find job opportunities there.

In case of a real Brexit, fees may roll up to thousands of euros — the same as it is for non-EU citizens — and member states may start to require additional validation of educational documents obtained in the UK.

A recent analysis of university education in the Netherlands shows that many graduates leave the country. To tackle this worrying fact, the Hague based EP-Nuffic, an organization working for internationalization of education, launched the initiative Make it in The Netherlands, aimed at non-Dutch students actually staying here to work (return on investment, of course, what else?) With the Britons willing to leave, as it seems, it is now the Golden Moment for the Netherlands to become the continent’s dreamland for the university education of future Nobel Prize winners and taxpayers. The Land of the Clogs is already firmly established toward internationalization, fees are generally lower than in the UK, admission processes are easier, there is a university in pretty much any city, students enjoy free or heavily discounted travel, pay less for accommodation (Amsterdam excluded) and generally have no language issues using English. It will take a little effort in the promotion and polishing of the English used for lecturing, but that is easily rectified.

The surprising result of the British vote sent shock waves across the world, causing a lot of chaos and losses, which will last for several years to come. Even before it is clear whether there will be a real Brexit, the Dutch need to do what they do best – to find the opportunity/s where things seem impossible or nearly decaying. After all, its them who built an entire state on water, the case now seems much easier