“The prospect of negotiators failing to reach a deal on future EU-UK trade relations will result in a devastating double whammy for farmers, agri-food businesses and traders who are already struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic,” warns Copa-Cogeca, FoodDrinkEurope, and CELCAA.
Ahead of the 9th round of negotiations, taking place next week, the EU agri-chain representatives call on the mediators to ensure a future trade agreement is that settled, one that supports business and jobs and helps protect EU–UK trade, worth €58bn in 2019.
The agreement must seek to maintain a level playing field between the EU and the UK, as well as protect the integrity of the single market, said the trade group.
They said that, for the last two years, European food business operators, Member States and others have been preparing to absorb the shock of the UK exiting the EU.
Food and feed controls
“But where business needs predictability, all we have is uncertainty, with no clarity as to how exports will be treated from January 2021.
“Less than four months before the end of the transition period, there are still many unknowns that make preparation impossible. In particular, food operators from both sides of the Channel need to know the UK’s regulatory regime on plant health, animal health, food and feed controls, and any future requirements impacting EU exports.”
The EU agri-food chain hopes that the UK and EU negotiators will achieve a high-quality outcome for a free trade agreement within the very limited time left. Given the impending difficulties, we also ask that the €5bn Brexit Adjustment Reserve be made available swiftly for the agri-food sector, which is one of the sectors worst-hit by the effects of Brexit.
“Trade and businesses flourish where there are predictability and trust. We therefore call for the continued and full implementation of the withdrawal agreement and a swift conclusion of the current trade negotiations.”
Threat of talks being derailed
The threat by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, that he would rewrite the treaty, signed off eight months ago, had endangered the attempts to ratify a deal.
The bloc has given Johnson until the end of the month to back down or face legal action.
Officials close to the discussions, reportedly said the two sides have succeeded in cooling down the situation, for now, thus laying the foundations for a round of negotiations in Brussels next week.