As businesses across Kent prepare for big changes following the UK’s departure from the EU, Kent County Council is strengthening cross-Channel ties to support them.
The Straits Committee, a new initiative to reinforce links and collaboration with Kent’s European neighbours is launched today in Arras, France, with the aim of supporting business and economic development both here and across the Channel.
Representatives from KCC join their counterparts from Belgium, the Netherlands and France to discuss topics from climate change to supporting young people.
KCC Cabinet Member for Economic Development Mike Whiting, who is attending the launch with a delegation of Kent business leaders, says it’s now more important than ever to cement cross-Channel relationships.
He said: “The Straits Committee is a fantastic opportunity to strengthen links with our neighbours on the continent.
“It’s never been more important to collaborate with our counterparts across the channel to discuss how to work together after the UK’s exit from the EU.
“We all have a shared commitment to keeping our borders fluid, supporting our economies, tackling shared challenges and finding opportunities that will benefit our communities. We may have left the EU but that isn’t the end of our relationship – we want to create new partnerships that we can build on.
“The Straits Committee will provide a place where people, business and communities can shape an agenda for working together on issues and opportunities facing the shared border area.”
Edward Llewellyn, British Ambassador to France, welcomed the initiative, saying ‘I am very pleased to support the launch of this Short Straits Committee, which is a great example of the strong inter-regional cooperation between France and the UK.
“This event is the result of extensive efforts over the past year and a half to establish a new working platform designed to strengthen local resilience and prosperity following our joint commitment made at the UK/France Summit in January 2018. We are pleased to have supported this project since its beginning, including via a funding grant for today’s event.
“I look forward to seeing the results of what promises to be a dynamic new working model.”
KCC already has longstanding connections with French and Belgian local authorities.
With new trading arrangements being developed, the authority will continue to support Kent companies with exporting, through its successful Kent International Business programme.
This will include reviewing the support available to ensure that it remains relevant as trading arrangements change during the transition period over the next 11 months.