Brief aan de Britten: Dear British Friends

As we understand, Brexit is about democracy. And we accept the decision taken by the British people. ©AFP

So you’re leaving us. It’s a choice we regret, but respect. We know that the British people have spoken.

Reflecting on the 47 years you were part of the EU, it is hard not to think about Oscar Wilde, who said that the proper basis for marriage is mutual misunderstanding. For De Tijd and L’Echo, the Brussels based business newspapers, we hope this day can be the start of a new mutual understanding.

As we understand it, Brexit is not about the economy. The EU27 remains your biggest trading partner, where 45 per cent of your export goes to and 53 per cent of your import comes from. That’s why we - and the whole European business community - strongly support a trade deal with the EU27 this year, that makes trade as frictionless as possible.

As we understand it, Brexit is not about geography. Brussels and London are only a two-hour train ride away. That’s why we suggest not to reject this proximity and keep working together in education and research.

So you’re leaving us. It’s a choice we regret, but respect. We know that the British people have spoken.

As we understand it, Brexit is not about diplomacy. The EU is losing its most important member state’s army today, but let’s try to speak with one voice at NATO. Let’s work together at the UN and other international organisations.

As we understand it, Brexit is not about history. We will never forget that British soldiers died in Flanders Fields, and will, in the words of John McCrae, not break faith with them. We will remember them.

As we understand, Brexit is about democracy. And we accept the decision taken by the British people.

We regret Brexit, but we accept it and hope this is not the end. It can and should be a new chapter in a long story about trade, cooperation, good neighbours and old friends. Know that Belgium is still open for business. And that you are still welcome in Brussels, the heart of Belgium and a slightly smaller European Union.

All the best,

De Tijd & L’Echo

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