Danish industry group ‘relieved’ at news of UK cabinet’s Brexit deal support

The Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) has said it is optimistic following Wednesday’s news that the British cabinet had agreed to support Theresa May’s draft Brexit agreement.

Danish industry group 'relieved' at news of UK cabinet’s Brexit deal support
British PM Theresa May made a statement on the draft Brexit deal outside 10 Downing Street on Wednesday evening. Photo: Tolga AKMEN / AFP/Ritzau Scanpix

DI, a private interest organisation funded, owned and managed by 10,000 companies within the Danish manufacturing, trade and service industries, responded positively to the announcement despite the significant hurdles still faced by the deal.

“The transitional agreement provides a certain amount of clarity for businesses that have long lived with uncertainty caused by Brexit,” DI director Thomas Bustrup told Ritzau in a written comment.

“But the agreement is not secured until it has been approved by the House of Commons in London and by the EU. Until then, we must hold our breath,” Bustrup added.

The DI director’s words of caution already appeared to have been borne out by Wednesday morning, as news broke that Brexit secretary Dominic Raab had resigned, saying he cannot back May's deal. That news puts the deal’s chances of survival into further doubt.

Even if the draft agreement, which was put forward by May and eventually received the backing of British ministers in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, receives approval from the British parliament, it must also be approved by the EU parliament and the leaders of the remaining 27 EU states.

May’s agreement provides a transitional plan which will enable Danish businesses to trade with UK markets under the same conditions as today until the end of 2020. The EU and UK parliament would meanwhile work to secure a new, permanent trade agreement.

If no new agreement is reached by the end of 2020, businesses could again be faced by uncertainty as the end of that year approaches, Bustrup said.

“It’s important to bear this in mind, so we don’t think everything has now been sorted out and in good order,” he said.

Mikael Olai Milhøj, a senior analyst with Danske Bank, noted that major news on Brexit negotiations was highly significant for Danish businesses, given that the UK is one of Denmark’s largest export markets.

“That’s why it’s important for many Danish businesses to be able to continue trading relatively problem-free with the Brits in future,” Milhøj said to Ritzau.

“That would be the case if this agreement gets through,” he said.

READ ALSO: 'More holes than cheese': A recap of what Theresa May's Brexit deal means for Brits in Europe


Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.