FoodDrinkEurope, Europe’s food and drink industry organisation, would like to highlight the dramatic consequences that a UK exit from the EU without a deal will have on food and drink producers, the wider food supply chain and, in particular, on consumers. A no-deal Brexit will be damaging for large, medium and small companies alike, as well as for farmers, due to high tariff duties and burdensome procedures at the borders. It will ultimately be consumers in both the UK and the EU27 however, that will bear the brunt of Brexit, with disruption in access to the food they enjoy and, in some cases, that they need (e.g. special nutrition products).
The figures speak for themselves: trade in food and drink products between the EU27 and the UK amounts to €46 billion; our complex food supply chains are highly integrated and just-in-time processes on both sides depend on the free movement of ingredients and raw materials.
Faced with the current lack of certainty, FoodDrinkEurope has strongly encouraged companies to prepare for a no-deal scenario. Those companies with the financial and human resources to do so, have followed the advice of the European Commission and engaged in contingency and preparedness measures. These measures will, however, not prevent significant disruption of supply chains in the case of a no-deal Brexit. It has also been much more difficult for smaller operators, many of whom will be facing export procedures for the first time, to suitably prepare as they often lack the required resources.
To mitigate the impact of a no-deal Brexit on consumers and on all operators in the supply chain, we call on the European Commission, with the support of EU Member States, to adopt unilateral contingency measures specific to the agri-food sector. These measures relate to customs, labelling, goods already placed on the market, food safety and certification of organic products (see details in annex).
The exit of the UK from the EU without a deal will constitute a lose-lose situation for the entire agri-food chain. With a no-deal Brexit, EU27-UK trade will revert to WTO Most Favoured Nation status, which will lead to high import tariffs on agri-food products, and result in an increase in cost that neither the food producer nor the consumer has the capacity to absorb. Combined with increased transport costs and burdensome procedures, companies will not be able to cope with these disruptions on their own. There is therefore an urgent need for time-limited EU contingency measures; the UK should be encouraged to ensure reciprocity.
FoodDrinkEurope would like to reiterate that a no-deal Brexit would be hugely damaging for both the UK and EU agri-food sector and must be avoided at all costs.