During the informal Agricultural Council meeting on 03-05 September, EU Agriculture Commissioner, Phil Hogan invited countries whose agricultural sectors have been affected by the depreciation in the value of Sterling since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, to apply for EU state aid.
Exchange rates are 90p Sterling to a Euro, compared to the pre-referendum rate of 75p to a Euro. Hogan stated that Irish agri-food businesses are particularly exposed to Euro-Sterling fluctuations. With many exporters locked into long term, sterling based contracts, they have been forced to accept the lower value in Euros. Alternatively those able to adjust the price of exports, are then uncompetitive on the UK market. Overall estimates are that over €600 million has been lost from the value of exports to the UK, €50m of this relating to cheddar cheese exports.
Minister Michael Creed is expected to send a formal request for EU aid in the coming weeks. While no other country has yet ask, the issue is due to be discussed again by EU agricultural ministers in their next meeting on 09-10 October.
By Alison Graham
European Affairs Executive