Officials from the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and from the UK Permanent Mission to the EU participated in a discussion with the EU co-operative and farmer organisation (Copa Cogeca) Brexit Task Force, on 9th April.
Laying out their vision for the future EU-UK relationship after Brexit, they stated their hope for as close a trade relationship as possible, through a streamlined customs procedure and regulatory alignment. They emphasised regulatory divergence would only happen incrementally over time, but that alignment could be maintained, through EU-UK discussions on any changes and flexibility which would allow different rules, as long as they achieve the same outcome.
Officials also highlighted the focus of the UK Secretary of State for the Environment and Food, Michael Gove, on increasing environmental standards and animal welfare practices post-Brexit, through the development of a 25-year environmental management plan. Included in this vision is for UK agricultural policy to transition over the coming seven years into a solely environmental policy. In line with this, they stated their intention to pursue their international trade agenda without any reduction in food safety or product standards, stating that their relationship with the EU will determine their trade with other countries.
DEFRA has launched a public consultation on the future of UK food and farming, which is open to all stakeholders (including those from Ireland), to reply to. It closes on 8th May.
By Alison Graham
European Affairs Executive
16 May 2018