Reguest for Advice on Brexit

November 9, 2016

Mr Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Chairman of the Advisory Council
on International Affairs
P.O. Box 20061
2500 EB The Hague

Date    6 October 2016         

Re       Request for advice on Brexit

Dear Professor de Hoop Scheffer,

On 23 June a referendum was held in the United Kingdom on the country’s EU membership in which 51.9% of British voters voted to leave the EU and 48.1% voted to remain. The government respects this outcome, though it is disappointed that a majority of those voting preferred to leave the EU. Since 1973 the UK has been a valued member of the EU and an important European partner for the Netherlands. The Netherlands and the UK have a close relationship and work together in a variety of areas: political, military, economic, cultural and social. With this in mind the government has consistently sought to keep the United Kingdom within the EU fold.

It is now up to the British government to indicate how it intends to deal with the referendum result. The UK can only withdraw from the EU once it has followed the applicable procedure set out in article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This process will start as soon as the UK formally states its intention to invoke the article (the ‘notification procedure’). Pursuant to article 50 there will then be negotiations on a withdrawal agreement. As soon as the withdrawal agreement takes effect, the EU treaties will no longer apply to the UK. If no such agreement has been reached within two years of notification, the EU treaties will automatically cease to apply to the UK, unless this time span is extended by the EU and the UK. At this point it would be prudent to consider what the shape of our future relationship with the UK should be.

In the light of the above, the government would ask the Advisory Council on International Affairs (AIV) to provide an advisory report by next spring at the latest that addresses the following questions:

  1. From the Netherlands’ perspective, what should be the key elements of the new bilateral relationship with the United Kingdom?
  2. From a Community perspective, what key elements should be part of the EU’s new relationship with the United Kingdom?
  3. What implications do the elements referred to in the previous two questions have for Dutch interests and the formation of coalitions within Europe?
  4. What should the Dutch government’s aims be in its bilateral relationship with the UK in the next several years?

I look forward to receiving your report.

Yours sincerely,

Bert Koenders
Minister of Foreign Affairs