Responding to the Government’s newly published set of ‘no-deal’ Brexit Technical Notices, the Food and Drink Federation along with other industry representatives have expressed their concerns.
Today (23rd August), the Government released a publication of guidance on how to prepare for a no-deal Brexit.
The publication states that a scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without agreement (a ‘no deal’ scenario) remains unlikely given the mutual interests of the UK and the EU in securing a negotiated outcome.
However, the Government has stated that the technical notices offer information to allow businesses and citizens to understand what they would need to do in such a scenario, so they can make informed plans and preparations.
What will change?
When it comes to the food industry, there are some things that the Government say will change in the event of a no-deal because the EU will treat the UK as a third country.
One major change is that UK businesses will only be able to export to the EU if they are certified by an organic control body recognised and approved by the EU to operate in the UK.
To do this, UK organic control bodies will need to apply to the European Commission for recognition.
UK control bodies are also not permitted to make these applications until the UK becomes a ‘third country’.
Approval can take up to nine months so Government is exploring alternative approaches that should speed up this process.
The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) has expressed concern over the publication, and states that the decision to publish the Technical Notices nevertheless confirms how frightening a no-deal exit from the EU would be for UK food.
FDF chief executive, Ian Wright CBE, said: “Specifically for food, the notice about organic food certification makes clear that UK organic exporters may face a ban on their exports to the EU for at least nine months after a no-deal exit, while new approvals for certification are sought.
“These issues apply far more widely than just to organic food – any UK food that currently displays EU marks or logos will be in the same boat.
“As the consequences of a no-deal exit from the EU become ever clearer it is vital that, to protect the interests of shoppers and consumers, the Government must deliver a deal with the EU.”
Molly Scott Cato MEP, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said: “The effect it would have on Britain’s agriculture would be catastrophic. If farmers can’t export to the continent, it will still severely threaten their incomes. Even if short term measures are implemented, they will not address the immediate problem of deciding what to plant next spring.”
Chris Atkinson, Soil Association head of standards, has also commented: “The technical notices published today (23rd August 2018) offer no further clarity to businesses and provide neither reassurance nor advice on how to prepare for a potential ‘no deal’ scenario.
“They confirm the scale of the challenge we face and the vital importance that the UK achieves a workable deal with the EU.”
For further information on the areas of the Technical Notices specific to the food industry, visit here.