Accordance is a profoundly European business. A majority of our staff are non-British EU nationals; our raison d’etre is to help businesses trade across borders in the EU; our professional focus is on a tax invented in Europe, and which helps fund the European social model; we started out in Brighton, and we also have a home in Amsterdam.
We are European, but we recognise that being European is not a simple matter. There is no single cultural heritage that speaks comprehensively for all Europe’s citizens. There is no one uncontroversial political and economic structure to which all can feel committed. Across the continent, hard questions are being asked about the nature of European identity, and whether rights and responsibilities are in Europe are fairly distributed.
Nevertheless, we at Accordance believe that, whatever today’s conflicts and challenges, there are European values and traditions that can and should be celebrated.
Many of these values and characteristics have, in fact, been hard-won responses to previous bitter conflicts. They do not depend on a particular political arrangement or creed.
Europe sees its people as having a right to freedom and individual self-determination; democracy and international commerce (the bit where Accordance comes in!) grew up in Europe, and are mainstays of a commitment to encouraging human flourishing while safeguarding the weakest.
We at Accordance see the European Union as part of that extraordinary project, and the four freedoms the EU has promoted as a major social advance; but more important to us than any formal political structure is the desire to maintain unity in diversity across Europe as a whole. Politics is by no means the whole story of Europe.
From the cafes to the cathedrals, the piazzas, galleries and tree-muffled squares, Europe remains startlingly beautiful. Everyone has had their breath taken away some time, whether it be by St Mark’s Square, a sudden view of the Alps, or a Cezanne landscape. Beauty, value and history are fully entwined in this continent. But Europe is not a museum, and nor will its values become redundant – whatever geopolitical shifts may take place. Look at how Europe has been in the vanguard of attempts to confront climate change; or consider how its artists and authors, right down to Karl Ove Knausgaard and Elena Ferrante, continue to refresh our sense of it what it is to be human.
Modern individuality, the sense of having the right and ability to construct a life or project with a larger meaning, is, according to historians and sociologists, in great part the creation of the European imagination and its political culture. We at Accordance believe in celebrating that continuing achievement. People are the heart of our business, and its core concern. It is a joy and education to be able to bring so many nationalities together in one company; and a privilege to assist so many clients feel more at home as they develop across Europe. We value the aspirations towards freedom of movement and cross border commerce because we believe that, when fulfilled, they tend in the direction of a kinder, more thoughtful and interesting world.