Mr Peeters bases his assertion on calculations made by the Brexit Workgroup that was set up to assess how the Belgian Economy would be affected by the Brexit.
If the EU and the United Kingdom fail to reach an agreement by March 2019, the customs tariffs for imports from and exports from the UK could cost Belgian industry as much as 2.22 billion euro/annum.
A previous study by the Economics Faculty at Leuven University predicted that 42,000 job would be lost in Belgium as a result of a hard Brexit. A hard Brexit would cost 526,000 jobs in the UK and 1.2 million jobs in the 27 countries that will remain in the EU.
A hard Brexit would be particularly far-reaching consequences for the Port of Zeebrugge (West Flanders). 45% of the port’s turnover comes from traffic to the UK and provides an estimated 5,000 jobs.
The Brexit Group concludes that “A hard Brexit should be avoided at all costs.”
Meanwhile, Mr Peeters told VRT News that "We have seen that the negotiations with Great Britain are not running smoothly. We need to be prepared for all possible scenarios.”