FDF EU Update

FDF EU Update

  • FDF EU Update

    A message from Ian Wright, Director General, FDF
    The Prime Minister confirmed that Government will trigger Article 50 next Wednesday 29 March 2017. This will set the clock ticking on the UK’s two-year countdown to exiting the EU and sharpen minds for the lively negotiations ahead. 

    Be assured that the FDF will continue to advocate for the best possible deal for our vital sector. Last week, over 30 ‘farm to fork’ representatives – coordinated by FDF – signed an open letter to Government calling for an early agreement on future trade with the Republic of Ireland. We hope that as negotiations get underway, they will heed our call and recognise the unique relationship that the UK has with the Republic of Ireland and its importance for the food security of both our countries. Tomorrow Defra and FDF will host the next trade association roundtable examining what the future regulatory landscape holds for food and drink. 

    If you want to keep on top of the latest developments then don’t miss FDF’s Convention, which is taking place on 11 May at the British Library, London. Brexit, Industrial Strategy and health are the key themes of what is certain to be an interesting and informative day for all involved. Confirmed speakers include Rt Hon Greg Clark MP (Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) and Public Health Minister Nicola Blackwood. I hope you will join us then – book your place. 
    Ian Wright CBE
    Director-General, FDF

    FDF news  

    Food and drink supply chain sign open letter to Government 
    Last week, FDF coordinated a letter on the UK’s future trading relationship with the Republic of Ireland on behalf of 35 trade associations from across the food and drink supply chain. The letter highlighted that the Republic buys more from the UK than the United States, China, Russia, Brazil, Canada and Japan combined. It also cited that nearly a fifth of UK food and drink exports go to Ireland, with more than a third of Ireland's reaching UK shores.

    The letter emphasised that: “New disruptive customs barriers, port health controls and other costly bureaucratic requirements that impede the movement of goods and workers must be avoided. They would disrupt established supply chain networks that operate across the UK and Ireland and would cause significant economic damage while adding to existing food price inflation faced by consumers.”

    The Times included an article discussing the issues raised in the letter and further coverage appeared subsequently in outlets including The Grocer and Food Navigator. 

    The Irish Independent included an opinion piece from Ian Wright on the potential effects of Brexit on trade between the UK and the Republic.

    We are building our collection of case studies please send your examples to Matthew.Evans@fdf.org.uk 

    Food is GREAT Trade Networking Reception
    Ian Wright, Dominic Goudie (Policy Manager (Exports, Trade and Supply Chain), FDF) and Sarah Malone (Economics Executive, FDF) attended the Food is GREAT Trade Networking Reception at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, on Monday 20 March 2017. Defra Secretary of State Rt Hon Andrea Leadsom MP opened the event with a speech addressing key global buyers to promote the UK’s world-leading food & drink industry. It also highlighted the success of food and drink 2016 export figures, which exceeded £20bn for the first time, and she encouraged more businesses to start their exporting journey by using great.gov.uk. International Trade Minister Mark Garnier MP followed by highlighting the work that his department is doing to secure new FTAs to put in place post-Brexit, as well as announcing the winner of Open to Export’s ‘Export Action Plan Competition’ for the food and drink sector.

    FDF parliamentary meetings  
    As part of FDF’s regular programme of engagement on Brexit, Ian Wright and Jayne Almond (Public Affairs Manager, FDF) met Angus MacNeil MP (SNP, Na h-Eileanan an Iar), Chair of the Commons International Trade Committee. Ian and Jayne briefed him on industry’s position on Brexit, FDF’s latest confidence survey and exports performance. The committee has re-opened the inquiry started last year by the then BIS Committee on exports support. FDF also met with the Shadow Trade Minister, Bill Esterson MP, who was interested to hear about potential trading hurdles and food security. FDF also met with officers of the APPG on Food and Drink Manufacturing on 15 March. 

    Other news

    Government announces Article 50 trigger date 
    The EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill received Royal Assent on Thursday last week. Following this news, the Prime Minister announced on Monday morning that she will trigger Article 50 next Wednesday 29 March, two days ahead of Government’s ‘deadline’. This will take the form of a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk. The PM will also make a statement to the House that afternoon. Within 48 hours of that, the European Council have agreed to circulate their draft negotiation guidelines. Rt Hon David Davis MP (Secretary of State for Exiting the EU) commented: “The Government is clear in its aims: a deal that works for every nation and region of the UK and indeed for all of Europe – a new, positive partnership between the UK and our friends and allies in the European Union.” Read more here

    President of the European Council Donald Tusk announced that EU leaders will convene for a special Brexit summit on 29 April. This will agree the broad guidelines on the scope, following which the European Commission can prepare a detailed negotiating mandate. 

    The focus then turns to the format of talks and the schedule. The EU continues to argue in public for sequential talks. In reality, the negotiations will need to juggle three main areas – the financial settlement, ‘divorce’ issues and future trading arrangements. As reported widely in the media, UK trade officials are said to be exploring interim arrangements with the EU in case a trade deal is not reached. More here

    Given the French Presidential elections, we are not likely to see much progress before June. If you have question on what we can expect of the process, get in touch with FDF Public Affairs here.

    Forthcoming Bills expected 
    The UK’s changing relationship with the EU will require a number of bills to be passed in a very short timetable to enable an orderly exit. According to media speculation, we can anticipate new Bills covering immigration, tax, agriculture, trade and customs regimes, fisheries, data protection and sanctions, among others. The IfG have estimated that 10 to 15 new bills and thousands of pages of secondary legislation are needed. FDF will be looking closely at the Great Repeal Bill and expect Government’s White Paper shortly, get in touch for more.  
    Parliamentary Scrutiny 
    The Commons and Lords committees are continuing to take evidence and produce reports. On 29 March, Sir Tim Barrow, UK Permanent Representative to the EU (effectively the UK’s day-to-day negotiator), told Peers that it would be possible to complete the negotiations for a new trading relationship with the EU inside the two-year Brexit timetable since UK and EU trading regulations are already in complete convergence. 

    On 8 March, Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill and Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food George Eustice appeared before for the Efra Committee, highlighting the particular dependency in the meat and fish processing sectors on EU workers. 
    The House of Lords EU Committee has published a report into 'Brexit: trade in goods', which quotes FDF’s evidence a number of times. It has a helpful summary of food issues on page 82. It says that Government must give particular consideration to the implications of tariffs on agriculture and concludes on regulation that a ‘two-tier’ approach to regulation of the food and beverages sector post-Brexit “appears undesirable and unlikely”.
    The Foreign Affairs Committee called on Government to require each Department to “produce a 'no deal' plan identifying the likely consequences and making proposals, including guidance to individuals and businesses, to mitigate potential risks”. 

    A short debate at Westminster highlighted the impact of Brexit on poultry producers in Northern Ireland which reflects many wider food chain issues. Responding, George Eustice MP said Government was keen to learn lessons from FTAs “in parts of the world that are not part of a customs union but that are nevertheless able to accommodate quite complex integrated supply chains.”

    On 16 March George Eustice MP (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) answered a question from Calum Kerr MP (SNP Environment and Rural Affairs Spokesperson) on Defra staffing levels. The Minister highlighted that the resourcing of EU work is a “key priority” for the department. He said “Defra is amongst those Government departments whose work is most closely linked to and impacted by EU activity, legal frameworks and funding. In terms of work arising from the UK’s vote to leave the EU, some 80% of Defra’s work is framed by EU legislation and a quarter of EU laws apply to Defra’s sectors. 

    First Minister seeks permission for Scottish independence referendum
    On Monday 13 March, the First Minister of Scotland announced her intention to seek the Scottish Parliament’s permission to hold an independence referendum, preferably in late 2018 or early 2019. The Prime Minister rebuffed the call and timescale, saying “now is not the time”. MSPs at Holyrood have been debating a motion yesterday and today (Wednesday) and it is likely to pass this afternoon. Although the SNP do not hold a majority, independence supporting parties SNP and the Greens do. The Scottish Government press release can be found here. SNP Deputy Leader Angus Robertson said at the SNP Spring Conference in Aberdeen over the weekend, that the PM has no right to deny Scotland another referendum. On Monday Nicola Sturgeon said she is willing to have a “reasonable” discussion with the PM to delay a Scottish independence referendum.

    Recommended reading 
    The Institute for Government has published an excellent report entitled “Legislating Brexit” looking at the Great Repeal Bill and the wider legislative challenge of Brexit. 

    An FSB report highlights the impact of Brexit on small businesses, including the perishable nature of (food and drink) products which makes it more challenging to export further afield.

    The Welsh Affairs Committee has published its initial findings as part of the inquiry into the Implications for Wales of the EU referendum result. On 27 March the External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee of the National Assembly for Wales is holding a conference in Cardiff on “Brexit: What next for Wales?”

    Advisory firm Global Counsel looks at the implications for the UK of moving to WTO rules for trade following Brexit.  

    The Centre for European Reform looks at German views on Brexit, asking how helpful will the country be to the UK as negotiations progress. 

    This reading list brings together briefings on Brexit by the Parliamentary Libraries and the Devolved Assemblies with reports by Parliamentary Committees following the result of the EU Referendum on 23 June 2016.

    Food and grocery industry research and training charity IGD has published a round-up of Brexit news affecting the sector. 

    The Institute for Government and the UK in a Changing Europe have published a report on the Civil Service after the triggering of Article 50.

    On 10 May, the Academy of Social Sciences is holding an event in “How can the UK prosper outside of the EU”. Read more about the event here

    The Swedish Government has published a report looking into the potential trade outcomes and other analyses of Brexit.

    Migration Watch UK has published a  report on the legal status of EU nationals living in the UK.

    In his seventh Brexit Challenge Paper, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP sets out the challenges facing the UK Government during Brexit Negotiations. Read the paper here.