Farm Ireland

Friday 23 March 2018

Brexit warning over food safety rules

Brexit could be a slow and painful process
Brexit could be a slow and painful process

Sarah Collins

Health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis has said animal, plant and food safety standards will be a "serious problem" for the EU and UK after Brexit.

Speaking to Farming Independent, he pointed specifically to sanitary and phytosanitary standards, which are a key component of all EU trade deals and could diverge post-Brexit, meaning lengthy checks at border crossings.

"Can you imagine, the control of all goods?" he said. With 40pc of Irish food and drink exports going to the UK, Ireland is four to six times more exposed than any other European country to Brexit, Ibec has estimated.

"At the moment, they have the same pan-European food safety standards. They have no separate standards. My questions to the UK is, what can they do with those standards? How they can develop? From our side, it's very important to understand," Mr Andriukaitis said. The EU and UK will not get into detailed talks on standards until a second phase of Brexit talks, which the bloc's lead negotiator Michel Barnier estimates will begin between December and next spring.

Meanwhile, the head of the farmers' association ICMSA has criticised calls by a French farm chief for the return of a hard border in Ireland post-Brexit.

French farmers' association chief Christophe Hillairet told agricultural journal Agra Europe that tough border controls were needed to stop a flood of cheap imports.

"The only people who would have enjoyed reading Hillairet's comments were the very anti-EU British Eurosceptics who want to play the different Member States off against each other and who want to foment that feeling of tension between different sectors and nations," said ICMSA president John Comer.

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