The Brexit Chairman of the organisation of all European Farmers Associations and Co-operatives COPA-COGECA, Alo Duffy has said the European Union and Irish Government must double down on contingency planning to protect the Irish and European agrifood sector from the resulting impacts as, unless current circumstances change very significantly, Britain is now hurtling towards a chaotic exit from the EU which will have repercussions across the entirety of the European agrifood sector.
Mr. Duffy represents the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) within COPA-COGECA and is a Board member of ICOS. He was speaking at the 17th International Dairy Forum which concluded at the weekend in Serock, Poland, where he addressed an audience of EU and global dairy industry leaders.
“It’s essential in the event of a no-deal, that a number of pragmatic, temporary measures are introduced to ensure the continuation of EU-UK trade with as minimum disruption as possible,” said Alo Duffy, who went on to outline some specific criteria which must be included in the planning process.
- Temporary facilities and procedures should be implemented to allow goods to be cleared at the premises of the operator and therefore avoid the potential for long delays at ports .
- Arrangements were made under the Withdrawal Agreement to allow goods already placed on the market – before the date of the UK’s departure – to continue to be sold (under the current rules and procedures) until all the goods are exhausted. A similar understanding needs to be agreed in the event of a no-deal.
- The EU and UK must agree on mutual recognition of food safety standards, in order to avoid the re-introduction of veterinary and phytosanitary certificates which would be a significant barrier for agri-food trade, in particular for our all-Ireland agricultural economy and our livestock exports.
- In relation to labelling and to facilitate a smooth transition to label changes, the EU Single Market needs to adopt temporary measures allowing for a grace period of at least 18 months, so that operators can build the required changes into their current label update cycle.
- The announcement by the European Commission of funding being made available for businesses most impacted by Brexit under the EU Solidarity Fund and Globalisation Fund is very welcome. This funding needs to be made available to the Irish agrifood sector, which is undoubtedly one of the most affected in Europe, to help businesses make the necessary supply chain and logistical adjustments. This includes, for example, expanding storage and distribution capacity to ensure the continuation of cross-border trade with the UK. Details of how this funding could be accessed need to be made available as soon as possible.
Concluding, Duffy said, “Additionally, the European Commission has made a commitment to make market management tools, including Public Intervention and Private Storage Aid available to help address the negative impact of a no-deal Brexit. We know the impact will be immediate and sharp and therefore we will need these tools to be readily available.”