(Brussels, 24 September 2020) The prospect of negotiators failing to reach a deal on future EU-UK trade relations will result in a devastating double whammy for farmers, agri-food businesses and traders who are already struggling to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ahead of the 9th round of negotiations taking place next week, with time almost out, we call on negotiators to find the necessary resolve to do everything in their power to agree to a future trade agreement that supports business and jobs – and helps protect EU – UK trade that was worth €58 billion in 2019. The agreement must seek to maintain a level playing field between the EU and the UK, as well as protect the integrity of the single market.
For the last two years, European food business operators, Member States and others have been preparing to absorb the shock of the UK departing from the EU. But where business needs predictability, all we have is uncertainty, with no clarity as to how exports will be treated from 1 January 2021.
Less than four months before the end of the transition period, there are still many unknowns that make preparation impossible. In particular, food operators from both sides of the Channel need to know the UK’s regulatory regime on plant health, animal health, food and feed controls, and any future requirements impacting EU exports.
The EU agri-food chain expects that regulatory elements will be shared urgently and hopes that UK and EU negotiators will achieve a high-quality outcome for a free trade agreement within the very limited time left. Given the impending difficulties, we also ask that the €5 billion Brexit Adjustment Reserve1 be made available swiftly for the agri-food sector, which is one of the sectors worst-hit by the effects of Brexit.
Trade and businesses flourish where there are predictability and trust. We therefore call for the continued and full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and a swift conclusion of the current trade negotiations.