European Parliament debates impact of Brexit

12 December 2022

Agriculture MEPs debate impact of Brexit

By Robin Manning, BAB Director

On 8 December, I attended the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament debate on the impacts of Brexit on the agrifood sector in what has now become an annual discussion.

Three experts were invited to give evidence – Neli Hadju from CELCAA representing EU traders, Paul Kelly for the food sector, and Irish Farmers' Association (IFA) President Tim Cullinan representing the farming sectors. All of the speakers pointed to the generally improving trade situation between the EU and UK, but highlighted the lack of certainty regarding the UK’s future import controls, and called for simplification of trade facilitation, particularly using the opportunities afforded by digitisation.

In his evidence, Tim Cullinan highlighted the negative problems caused by the EU’s ban on the import of seed potatoes from GB and the need to reach a reciprocal agreement. Farmers are also facing issues due to the complications of importing breeding livestock from Great Britain into the EU. Many of the MEPs who spoke in the debate called for a solution to the seed potatoes ban, and for greater trade facilitation.

All in all this was a good debate with MEPs and the invited experts who demonstrated a clear understanding of outstanding trade issues faced by both UK and EU farmers, and the need to overcome these. We look forward to continuing to work alongside MEPs to highlight the issues faced by farmers as a result of Brexit.

Seed Potatoes
Issue: EU rules prohibit the import of seed potatoes into NI/EU from traditional sources in GB. Risks to future ware potato production.
Solution sought: Industry organisations from across Europe have proposed a rolling two-year derogation for trade and marketing of seed potatoes. Other solutions based around a transition period also possible.

Veterinary Medicines
Issue: Concern about the implications of the NIP as regards the ability of animal health companies fulfilling regulatory requirements to maintain authorisations of veterinary medicines, and the potential for disruption to product supply to NI.
Solution sought: seeking similar solutions for veterinary medicines to those that have already been agreed for the UK human medicines industry. Agreement needed that the MA holder for UK national authorisations with NI in their scope be permitted to remain located in Great Britain, and that GB based warehousing for the NI market remains permissible without a subsequent need to repeat batch test when products move from GB to NI.

Livestock Movements
Issue: Disruption in the movement of NI livestock to GB for sale impacting on viability of NI red meat and dairy sectors:
Solution sought: Provide for NI animals returning to NI from GB to be allowed on the farm of residence.

Issue: Lack of Border Control Post to allow trading of breeding livestock from GB into the EU.
Solution Sought: Business case exists for the establishment of a BCP, but must find resolution to allow permitting of a new establishment to ease this trade.