AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Friday it planned to hire at least 750 new customs agents in preparation for Britain’s exit from the European Union.
In a letter to parliament, deputy Finance Minister Menno Snel said the cabinet had “decided that the Customs and Food and Wares agencies should immediately begin recruiting and training more workers”.
He said the government was working on the basis of two scenarios: that Britain leaves the EU with no deal in place, or that it leaves on similar terms to those of the Union’s recent trade deal with Canada.
“The results are that ... around 930 or 750 full-time employees are needed,” Snel said. “It speaks for itself that the cabinet is following the negotiations closely in order to be able to react appropriately.”
Lawmaker Pieter Omtzigt, who is Dutch parliament’s Brexit rapporteur, said he had recommended the move.
“For a trading nation like the Netherlands, you just cannot afford for customs not to work, it would be a disaster,” he said.
He said both sides of the English Channel had been slow to wake up to the reality that Britain was on course to leave the EU in 14 months’ time.
“If we need hundreds of new customs and agricultural inspectors, the British are going to need thousands,” he said.
Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Robin Pomeroy