European agri-food bodies ask EU for Brexit contingencies

Some of Europe’s largest agri-food industry representative bodies have asked the EU to bring in contingency measures for the sector throughout the continent as Brexit approaches.

In a joint statement, three agri-food organisations in Europe – Copa-Cogeca, CELCAA, and FoodDrinkEurope – said that the effects of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would be “immediate and harsh” for agri-food producers and businesses.

These bodies highlight a set of new rules and regulations which could be implemented – relating to customs, labeling, food safety and transport – that they say would soften the impact of a no-deal Brexit “on day one”.

In a joint letter to the EU, the three groups also called on the union to “carefully consider” making adjustments to the agricultural markets, as well as preparing some support policies and emergency funds to deal with “unforeseen events”.

According to the statement, EU member states also need to coordinate and cooperate on the issue of Brexit, in order to “avoid trade flow distortions”.

“There is no doubt that the agri-food sector could be one of the sectors most impacted by the UK’s exit from the EU, due to highly integrated supply chain use and manufacturing of perishable products,” said the three bodies.

They also highlighted the raw figures behind the agri-food trade with the UK; the other EU countries exported €41 billion worth of agri-food produce to the UK in 2017, which sent €17 billion in the opposite direction the same year.

As well as that, the agri-food sector in the EU, including Britain, employs around 44 million people.

The three groups argue that an ‘orderly’ Brexit – one with a deal in place – is the only sure way “to prevent the UK’s exit from having a huge impact on the agri-food chain”.