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Geoffrey Van Orden to speak on Brexit and the Future of Europe: The Implications for Sri Lanka and India

March 29, 2019    Reading Time: 2 minutes

Reading Time: 2 min read

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The Lakshman Kadirgamar Institute of International Relations and Strategic Studies (LKI) will host a Foreign Policy Round Table with Geoffrey Van Orden, Member of the European Parliament for the United Kingdom (UK) on ‛Brexit and the Future of Europe: The Implications for Sri Lanka and India.’

This round table will be held on Thursday, 4 April 2019 from 12:30 PM to 2:00 PM at LKI. This event will assess the latest developments in the UK’s expected departure from the European Union (EU) and discuss the implications for South Asia, particularly Sri Lanka and India.

Almost three years on from the Brexit referendum, the future relationship between the UK and Europe remains unclear. An extension to the deadline for the UK’s departure has added to the uncertainty, and all options seem possible including the UK staying within the EU Customs Union and a ‘no-deal’ scenario. The process has also exposed rifts in attitudes between young and old, business and governments, parliamentarians and the people, which are likely to play out in the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament.

As the EU and the UK are important partners of Sri Lanka and India, the Brexit process could affect mutual relations. Europe is a huge trading partner of India and Sri Lanka, as well as a key source of foreign investment and tourists. Sri Lanka recently re-gained GSP+ status for preferential access to the EU market linked partly to meeting transitional justice obligations. Meanwhile, the UK-led Commonwealth provides enhanced trade opportunities for Sri Lanka. Thus, Sri Lanka and India face the tricky dilemma of how to engage in economic and political terms with both the UK and the EU.

Geoffrey Van Orden is a Conservative Party Member of the European Parliament for the East of England. First elected in 1999, he is a long-standing member of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee and Security and Defence Subcommittee. He has also chaired the “Friends of Sri Lanka” group since its inception in 2006 and is currently chairman of the Delegation For Relations With India. He first visited Sri Lanka in 1977 accompanied by a fellow student at the Indian Defence Services Staff College, the late Admiral Clancy Fernando.

Mr. Van Orden was instrumental in the creation of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) political group in the European Parliament in 2009, which is now the third largest political grouping with members from 19 countries. He is Vice-Chairman of the ECR and was the Founding President of its associated think-tank, New Direction – The Foundation for European Reform, which argues for reform of the European Union.

Prior to entering politics, Mr. Van Orden was a senior officer in the British Army, with wide international and operational experience, particularly in the field of counter-terrorism. His last military appointment was at North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels where he headed the secretariat of the International Military Staff. He holds a degree in Politics from the University of Sussex.

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