On Monday, 1 October 2018, we were delighted to hold our first ever event at the Conservative Party Conference: Projekt Hansa — The Future of Trade in Northern Europe.
It was in a crowed room of Birmingham’s beautiful International Conference Center that over 30 joined us late that evening to hear about future trade developments.
Our chairman, Rupert Matthews MEP for the East Midlands, first introduced our policy group, stressing Projetk Hansa’s main focuses: regional trade and culture — in the EU and beyond, to Norway, Iceland, and in the near future the United Kingdom.
Then followed my much admired MEP colleague, and valued supporter of Projekt Hansa, Anders Vistisen MEP for Denmark, who amusingly reminded attendants that Denmark was the archenemy of the Hanseatic League, fighting against this free trade, in medieval times. But not anymore. Today, Denmark, MEP Vistisen argued, is dedicated to oppose global trends toward protections which threaten liberal trade. He believes Projekt Hansa to be a great initiative to reiterate why and how free trade works for the common good of people — which sadly the EU lost sight of in the Brexit negotiation.
Our second speaker, Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors, gave a highly intelligent address on EU trade reforms, its future trajectories and its interconnection to the post-Brexit EU-UK relationship. She argued, amongst many other things, that there is an interesting case for the UK to influence EU regulations, drawing examples from Norway’s cooperation with its closest partners, but also for the purpose of creating new cooperation structures based on common alignments and interests (i.g. free trade). She believes Projekt Hansa is a relevant stroke to this canvas as it can support Member States to think beyond the structure to which we operate and more on the outcomes necessary for prosperous relations.
In the end, we were all pleased by the event and the important discussion which took place. Soon afterwards, Rupert Matthews MEP remarked: "I was impressed by the enthusiasm shown by Conservative Party Member and Member of Parliament for Projekt Hansa. This event shows that there is a real support for increase free trade and for the benefit of us all."