As the fourth and final round of Brexit negotiations come to a close, concerns have been raised about the lack of progress in terms of agreeing on a suitable trade deal.
In a press conference on Friday 5th June, EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said “there has been no significant progress” in talks between the EU and the UK.
He confirmed there had been no breakthrough in agreeing a trade deal, or in talks regarding fishing or level playing field guarantees.
This has sparked fears over the impact this could have on the agriculture and food industries.
The EU is the UK’s largest trading partner, accounting for 45% of exports and 53% of imports. In addition, food trade between the EU and the UK amounted to €58 billion last year.
The Farmers association Copa-Cogeca, the European liaison committee for agricultural and agrifood trade Celcaa, and FoodDrinkEurope, say there is a “growing risk that no agreement will be reached before the end of the current transition period”.
The group added that if there is no deal and no extension of the transition period, this could “severely disrupt integrated supply chains”
Boris Johnson and the UK government has insisted it won’t consider extending the transition period beyond 2020.
However, Copa-Cogeca, Celcaa and FoodDrinkEurope are urging this to be reconsidered, and for a temporary agreement to be put in place in 2021 if a deal isn’t reached this year.
They say a temporary agreement could be used to continue tariff and quota-free trade. This would minimise disruption and provide negotiators with additional time to finalise a deal. This is particularly important during the EU’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.
The added that it is of “utmost importance to keep a close relationship between the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA).”
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