Farm Ireland

Monday 19 February 2018

Every effort should be made to avoid border controls - House of Lords report

Margaret Donnelly

Margaret Donnelly

A report from the House of Lords on the UK’s stance on agriculture, in light of Brexit, is recommending that there is no custom controls should re-introduced between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

The report, which is due to be published tomorrow and has been seen by, says that agri-food supply chains are particularly highly integrated between Northern Ireland and the Republic and the re-introduction of border controls and tariffs could severely disrupt this industry and could lead to an increase in cross-border smuggling.

Every effort should be made to avoid the re-introduction of customs controls on the Irish land border, the report, which is compiled by the European Union Committee of the House of Lords.

The report goes on to say that leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the European Union will have fundamental implications for the agricultural sector in the UK. While it says that in the long term the UK has an opportunity to review and improve its agriculture, environment, and food policy, in the short term the sector faces critical challenges.

The report also points out the quandary the UK finds itself in around tariffs on food imports – that high tariffs on imports would raise the cost to UK consumers, whereas lower tariffs could reduce the cost of food to consumers, but might undermine the domestic agricultural sector’s competitiveness.

When it comes to negotiating a UK-EU trade agreement, the report says that because the UK is a net importer of food and therefore a very attractive market for agri-food products both from the EU and globally, which should give it a strong position during trade negotiations for those products both with the EU and, after Brexit, with third countries.

However, leaving the EU brings with it uncertainty around its own exports as the EU is also the single largest market for UK agri-food goods and a fall back position of WTO rules would severely hit the pig and sheep meat sectors.

It recommends that a UK-EU trade deal should avoid the imposition of tariffs on trade in both directions and says that third country deals will not be able to offset reliance on the EU for quite some time.  

Also Read

And while it says that non-tariff barriers could be equally if not more disruptive to trade in agricultural products and food, it warns that products must meet the standards of the EU market in order to enter it. It also says that the high standards of British produce must be maintained to ensure export opportunities continue.

It also calls on the UK government  to clarify with urgency whether preferential trade agreements with third countries will be preserved.

Farmers in the UK, it says need clarification on what support levels the UK government is prepared to give them, while Brexit it says gives the UK government the opportunity to deliver simpler support schemes it also warns that the agricultural sector will have to make a strong case to maintain financial support at the same or similar levels to that provided under the CAP.

Access to labour in the UK has been highlighted by many in the agricultural sector as a possible issue in light of Brexit and the report says that while many workers in the sector are regarded as ‘unskilled’, they are in fact extremely skilled at sector-specific tasks. It highlights the reliance in the sector on EU citizens providing veterinary services in abattoirs, which are essential to ensure compliance with food standards and regulations.

For Stories Like This and More
Download the FarmIreland App

Online Editors

More in EU