(Brussels, 19 July 2018) FoodDrinkEurope welcomes the fact that the UK published its White Paper last week, as it offers Europe’s food and drink industry some indication of what the future relationship between the EU27 and the UK may hold, and also seems to be a step towards our sector’s main priorities, i.e. ensuring that frictionless trade will continue, current production processes will be maintained, burdensome administrative delays will be reduced and a hard border on the island of Ireland will be avoided.
In the White Paper, the UK government confirms its commitment to frictionless trade – recognising the benefits of continued regulatory alignment in the agri-food sector, a facilitated customs agreement for the island of Ireland, and a sensible common rule-book approach for the future EU-UK relationship. FoodDrinkEurope is pleased to see that the UK Government recognises the particular importance of our industry, and hopes that this will be translated into the final EU27-UK deal, protecting trade flows and avoiding damage to jobs and growth.
In line with its statement of 27 June 2018, FoodDrinkEurope is convinced, and reiterates that a customs union would be the best way to ensure certainty for business over the long-term, providing mutual market access for agri-food products free of customs duties, of additional agricultural components or any other equivalent border taxes.
FoodDrinkEurope is particularly concerned however that the White Paper makes no explicit reference to UK participation in the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which has strengthened the food and drink industry and maintained high standards of food safety for the benefit of European consumers. Continued EU27-UK cooperation would deliver the best outcomes in terms of risk assessment and the practical work of food and veterinary risk managers, as they ensure effective and timely prevention measures to ensure the safety of consumers in the EU27 and the UK alike.
This said, FoodDrinkEurope is hopeful that the UK White Paper will contribute towards delivering a fruitful and positive relationship between the EU and the UK post-Brexit. Achieving this objective may take longer than expected and, therefore, the industry recommends that the envisaged transition period be extended if necessary.
Europe’s food and drink manufacturers look forward to further engagement on the substance of the framework for the future EU-UK relationship, working closely with business, to support rapid progression to an agreement. This is essential for the future of our industry, and will be to the benefit of consumers across Europe.