Proposals published by the UK government are positive commitments towards minimising disruption to EU-UK trade following Brexit, if only in the short term.

This is the view of ICOS (Irish Co-operative Organisation Society) European Affairs Executive Alison Graham, relating to the UK government’s recent proposals on the regulation of goods post-Brexit.

“Documents released by the UK government, outlining their proposals on the regulation of goods, to ensure their continued availability in the UK, include workable options for maintaining the current state of free trade with minimum bureaucracy, immediately following their withdrawal from the EU,” Graham said.

The paper calls for goods already on the EU market to continue to be traded between the EU and UK without any additional regulatory requirements and for certifications, registrations and approvals to continue to be recognised by UK authorities, as the organisation sees it.

Alison Graham, European Affairs Executive, ICOS

“Any changes to UK regulation following Brexit, or requirements for imports into the UK to undergo new approval procedures would result in a heavy and costly administration burden for the many Irish cooperatives exporting goods to the UK market and would create an immediate barrier to trade.

These proposals are therefore a welcome step, which if implemented together with a transitional period, would provide greater trade stability and certainty to businesses by ensuring a ‘cliff edge’ scenario is avoided.

“However, long-term trade stability can only be guaranteed by equally committing to an ambitious customs agreement, which includes maintaining tariff-free trade and regulatory equivalence on agri-food measures, as well as enabling a frictionless border,” Graham added.

As it stands, the UK government proposals have limited the scope of any agreement due to their desire to negotiate trade deals with third countries.

ICOS represents more than 130 co-operatives in Ireland – including the Irish dairy processing co-operatives and livestock marts – whose associated businesses have a combined turnover in the region of €15 billion.

There are 150,000 individual members, employing 12,000 people in Ireland, and a further 24,000 people overseas, the organisation claims.