The Brexit chairman of the organisation of European Farmers’ Associations and Co-operatives (COPA-COGECA) has outlined the practical measures needed in the event of a crash-out by the UK.

Speaking at the 17th International Dairy Forum in Serock, Poland, Alo Duffy said: “The EU and Irish Government must double down on contingency planning to protect the Irish and European agri-food sector from the resulting impacts.

Unless current circumstances change very significantly, the UK is now hurtling towards a chaotic exit from the EU which will have repercussions across the entirety of the European agri-food sector.

“It is essential that in the event of a no-deal, a number of pragmatic, temporary measures are introduced to ensure the continuation of EU-UK trade with as minimum disruption as possible.”

Duffy outlined some specific criteria which he said must be included in the planning process, including:
  • Temporary facilities and procedures implemented to allow goods to be cleared at the premises of the operator – avoiding 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;
  • 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 agri-food sector, to help businesses make the necessary supply chain and logistical adjustments.

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 Brexit impact will be immediate and sharp and therefore we will need these tools to be readily available.”

Duffy represents the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) within COPA-COGECA and is a board member of ICOS.