Brexit: No deal would compound COVID-19 impact and deal devastating blow to agri-food
25 Sep 2020 --- As the Brexit transition deadline looms, European agri-food groups are reiterating how a failure 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 fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the ninth round of negotiations taking place next week, European stakeholders – including FoodDrinkEurope, Copa-Cogeca and CELCAA, the European Liaison Committee for Agricultural and Agri-Food Trade – have joined forces to renew their concerns over the lack of progress regarding the future trading landscape between the EU and UK.
They are calling on negotiators to “find the necessary resolve to do everything in their power” to agree to a future trade agreement that supports business and jobs – and helps protect EU-UK trade that was worth €58 billion (US$67.6 million) 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, they stress.
For the last two years, European food business operators, Member States and others have been preparing to absorb the shock of the UK departing from the EU. However, with just over three months left until the January 31 deadline, so much uncertainty remains with no clarity as to how exports will be treated from January 1, 2021.
The groups say that 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 which would impact EU exports.
“The EU agri-food chain expects that regulatory elements will be shared urgently and hopes that UK and EU negotiators will achieve a high-quality outcome for a free trade agreement within the very limited time left,” a statement reads.
“Given the impending difficulties, we also ask that the €5 billion 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.”
By Gaynor Selby
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