The Continental View

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Holland is now Greece number two in Europe.

A struggling minority government with debts rising above the famous dykes; and one politician’s finger would not to stop the financial flood, it would need all the hands from Brussels.

But our government is not borrowing from Europe but it puts a real strain on the people. How, I will tell you how later on in this story. Maybe the tiny hands of Angela Merkel could help but she still has her hands tied in Southern Europe. Hey, but finally Germany is teaming up with England and wants to take control on Brussels and put a halt to the greed and stupidity of Brussels’s civil servants.

For two years I have been writing controversial stuff in this column; I painted how small businesses on the continent make crazy moves to survive the crisis. I wrote about an Italian baker delivering his bread on a scooter with a toddler on his knee and another kid struggling to survive on the backseat.

A policeman stopped him and I thought he would book the mad scooterist. Wrong, the carabinieri only wanted to know when his loaf would be delivered. About German waiters with three years of training that are so proud of their jobs that they want to be addressed as Sir.

A Spanish family running a motorway restaurant which has never seen a bank. They only deal in cash and their money stays in a closed circle between their customers, them and their suppliers. A bit like a “Buy Locally” campaign called “The Best of Eastbourne” of which I heard recently.

Great initiative, but local economies cannot survive on local customers only; this is economical incest. On several occasions I tried to convince the local authorities and organisations to focus across the channel to attract more business for the Eastbourne economy but nobody made a move.

In the meantime Kent has started the 2-Seas project, successfully inviting entrepreneurs from the Benelux and France to check out business opportunities. What has to be done?

It is not rocket science; it just needs a bit of planning and creating the right marketing strategy. Germans love the South of England and if you cater for the Dutch they come in bundles. Does Eastbourne want to be the back garden of Kent? However a few Eastbourne fishermen have proven that it can be done: the Southern Head Fishing Company exports cockles and other stuff from the sea to the Frogs.

Why do I bother? I hate to see lost opportunities and also have started to love this place with a unique seafront outpacing the Boulevard des Anglais in Nice. And it has some eating places that make a difference; The Beach Deck, Seasons in Sovereign Harbour and last but not least The Hidden Cellar.

Oh, let me not forget the golf courses, brilliant! However I have not seen any sales ads in continental golf magazines. But don’t invite foreign golfers if your hotels are not up to scratch.

I support the buy local campaign but wouldn’t be great if we get foreigners to buy your great local stuff.

I tried to explain that England is not doing so badly and that Germany had its austerity 15 yearsago. The wages of Dutch doctors were cut in half and our pensioners had to take serious cuts.

Food (and petrol) is terribly expensive on the other side of the channel, so Continental companies should be interested to cooperate with businesses in the South of the UK. With other X-Channel experts I have started a new project called The Anglo Continental Expansion; hopefully the East Sussex industry will take interest. Let me know what you think about it, I would love to hear your opinion. Just as a comment on this column or mail me at t.rebergen@doylebizzlink.com.