Farm Ireland

Saturday 24 March 2018

Post-Brexit UK can't have it every way, warns Creed

Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed. Photo: Tony Gavin
Michael Creed

Sarah Collins

The UK should sign new trade deals alongside the EU after Brexit, so as not to undercut European markets, the Agriculture Minister has said.

Speaking to the Farming Independent in Brussels last week, Michael Creed said there was a risk that a post-Brexit Britain would lower its safety or veterinary standards in order to do new trade deals.

"We would like to see, in a post-Brexit scenario, a situation whereby the UK could only move on agri-food trade deals in tandem with the European Union," Mr Creed said, "because then we would have some chance of having a common platform on standards and certification."

Mr Creed said that "smacks of wanting your cake and eating it".

Theresa May
Theresa May

"They want to have access to our market, but then they want to undermine our market - or our access to their market - by doing a trade deal which might bring in product of an inferior status to the standards that we have here," he said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has said China and Brazil have already indicated a readiness to sign trade deals with Britain, while the government is also looking for new markets in the US, Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Creed also expressed concern at UK farming minister Andrea Leadsom's pledge to scrap a wealth of EU regulations post-Brexit, including a crop rotation rule to promote biodiversity on farms.

"If you have this bonfire of the regulations, that suggests, thereafter, that doing business will be to a different level of standards and certification, and that's a cost to business and that's obviously a huge concern to us," Mr Creed said.

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He said he was heartened by Ms May's pledge for a seamless post-Brexit border between Ireland and the North, but said that "articulating it is one thing and executing it is another".

"That is the challenge of these negotiations," he warned.

Brexit is also the biggest challenge to maintaining a sufficient budget for the Common Agricultural Policy budget after 2020, Mr Creed said, adding that Ireland will need to contribute more after the UK leaves.

"We are a net contributor now to the European Union, so I don't think we can point the finger and ask others to carry the can, so we have to be ­prepared to carry more," he said.

He warned that the "beady eyes of other commissioners are on the agricultural budget", but that there is a "good case to make" for maintaining it.

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