EU agri-food chain stresses need for certainty as Brexit approaches

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/amesy
© GettyImages/amesy
One week ahead of the potential date of the UK exiting the EU and before a crucial meeting of the European Council, EU farmers lobby, Copa and Cogeca, and other trade bodies on behalf of the EU agri-food chain reiterated their concerns regarding a no-deal Brexit.

They said the agri-food sector would certainly be one of the sectors most impacted by a non-orderly Brexit, due to its complex and highly integrated supply chains, its just-in-time processing and its dependence on perishable products.

“It will ultimately be consumers in both the UK and the EU27 however, that will bear the brunt of Brexit, with disruption in access to the food they enjoy and, in some cases, they need. 

The possible impact of Brexit is difficult to foresee, said EU Feed Manufacturers' Federation (FEFAC) in a note last month​, but it stressed that a no-deal Brexit is likely to deeply affect trade in livestock products and, therefore, the feed demand.

“The current context of uncertainty is very prejudicial to the EU and UK agri-food sectors. The extension of Article 50 beyond March 29 could help the sector to prepare better for Brexit, but it should be granted by the Heads of State and Government only if it contributes to deliver a more orderly withdrawal, therefore providing predictability to operators.”

The EU agri-food chain said UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration on the future relationship, as negotiated, represent the best way forward for the sector.

Failing acceptance of this agreement, the trade bodies said they will continue to call on the EU institutions to adopt appropriate unilateral contingency measures specific to the sector and to introduce market measures to mitigate the extremely negative impacts.

“Finally, we urge both sides to agree rapidly on the future EU-UK relationship, and thereby provide clarity and certainty for businesses.”

May is reportedly set to ask the EU officials today for only a short extension to article 50 delaying Brexit by less than three months.

Open letter to House of Commons

Meanwhile, Devenish Nutrition, Fane Valley, and Moy Park were some of the animal feed and agribusiness related companies out of a list of 50 firms altogether that signed an open letter​ earlier this month warning Westminster of the consequences of leaving the EU without a deal on the 560,000 private sector employees there.

In the letter, they lay out a grim prediction of "significant job losses",​ with a no-deal threatening to "stifle opportunities for the next generation across Northern Ireland".

Bombardier, Coca-Cola and First Trust were also included in the list of businesses telling the MPs of the dangers of failing to unite behind a way forward that avoids a hard border and protects peace and economic progress in Northern Ireland.

Related topics: Europe, Regulation

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