Paperjam + Delano Club: Over the last 2 years which moments in the negotiation process stand out for you?
Cathrine Foldberg Møller: The many delays and extensions and the roller-coaster ride through Hard Brexit, No Brexit, Soft Brexit, No Deal Brexit and back again. The political discussions and negotiation of the terms had a powerful impact on the regulatory and legal issues, and we were all sat at the edge of our chair waiting for a conclusive answer and outcome. In the meantime, it was difficult for firms to plan their strategy. Whilst we knew that Brexit would have an impact on business, it was not entirely clear how that could be tackled. The much often used (and disliked) phrase from lawyers that “it depends” was, unfortunately, spot on. As we helped our clients complete the “Brexit notifications” to be submitted to the [Luxembourg financial regulator] CSSF and watched the parliament pass a law in preparation for a No Deal Brexit, we thought the end of the chapter was in sight. That was summer 2019 and we now know a lot more was to come.
If you could advise the Luxembourg government on ways to go forward to capitalise on Brexit what would you say?
To continue doing what we have been doing all along--showing what we are good at and continuously delivering quality and demonstrating innovation. The message from the Luxembourg financial sector has consistently been that we were not out to “steal London’s crown”. Luxembourg was already known as an excellent hub for international financial institutions, Brexit did not change that. In the heart of Europe, not only literally but also figuratively with its cross-border activities and multi-lingual and cultural workforce, Luxembourg is an obvious choice for international business. We should continue to emphasise the benefits the Luxembourg financial sector has to offer, ensuring collaboration and stability for the global financial centre. It’s equally important to look towards the future and embrace the digital and technological developments and continue to build this expertise. It’s time to master the digital wave.
If we were having this conversation in 5 years time, what condition do you believe the EU will be in?
Brexit was a wake-up call. We have been reminded of all the benefits we enjoy in the EU: being able to travel and work freely and where we want, a sense of solidarity and security, respect and encouraging the languages and cultures of the different countries. Brexit also taught us that agreements can always be reached, even where a lot is at stake and the discussions are lengthy and difficult. I hope that the EU will be stronger and closer together. Five years down the road the EU will look back, but only to realise how far we’ve come.