Klaas Knot: Interests and alliances

Opening remarks by Mr Klaas Knot, President of the Netherlands Bank, at the SUERF/Netherlands Bank Conference "Forging a new future between the UK and the EU", Amsterdam, 8 January 2020.

Central bank speech  | 
08 January 2020
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The SUERF Conference of January 2020 brought together thought leaders from policy making, academia and industry, to discuss the economic implications of some of the challenges uncovered by Brexit and other recent events on both sides of the Channel. Because the conference was held at De Nederlandsche Bank in Amsterdam, Klaas Knot was invited for an opening keynote speech. In it, Mr Knot offered an optimistic view on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, based on the shared interests and the current and possible future alliances.

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It is my pleasure to welcome you all here at the Dutch Central Bank. And a special welcome to our distinguished speakers and panelists. A new year, a new decade, and a good moment to discuss the future relationship between the EU and the UK. Indeed, political developments over the coming months will be vital in shaping this new relationship.

Henry Kissinger - the former US Secretary of State, famously said that "America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests. This echoes what Lord Palmerston - the 19th century UK prime minister - once said: "the UK does not have eternal allies, nor perpetual enemies, but eternal and perpetual interests."

Let me now fast forward to today's world of Brexit. Obviously, a politician or political party can persuade people to vote to leave the European Union. A member state can decide to abandon a treaty, or to withdraw from an agreement. Every nation has its own - sometimes narrow - political interests. These interests clearly matter over the course of history, and they probably will continue to do so for a long time to come.