FDF EU update

FDF EU update

  • FDF EU update


    A message from Ian Wright, Director General, FDF

    The triggering of Article 50 gives us a definitive timetable for the UK to exit the EU. The clock is ticking. Businesses need to be ready to leave the EU in two years’ time. As we outline below, both sides effectively have just over 12 months to negotiate a deal to allow enough time for ratification. FDF has called for transitional arrangements to help smooth the way and make sure there is no ‘cliff edge’ for our firms in 2019.

    Food is at the heart of our culture, identity and security. It is vital that both sides work together in a constructive spirit - for our people, businesses and economy. FDF, together with our partners across the food chain, is already deeply embroiled in working to help the Government secure the best possible outcomes for trade, our workforce, a stable regulatory regime and a continued seamless border with the Republic of Ireland.

    We will continue to cut through the noise and share the most relevant insight for food and drink here. I’m also keen to hear your questions so do get in touch. 

    FDF’s forthcoming Convention will provide an opportunity to hear from industry leaders, to network and share your views. With a fantastic line up including Business Secretary Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, we will address the triple challenges of Brexit, the new industrial strategy and obesity. Do join us on 11 May 2017 at the British Library, London and book your place here. 

    Ian Wright CBE
    Director-General, FDF

    FDF news

    Joint food chain advocacy on trade 
    On 27 March, FDF, alongside the British Retail Consortium and the National Farmers Union of England and Wales, issued a joint statement to Government. We wrote to Ministers across a range of departments to highlight our shared objectives and priorities for UK trade policy.

    The letter addressed the strategic importance for the UK of the food supply chain. The food supply chain not only employs almost four million people and generates over £100 billion of value for the economy each year, but keeps the nation fed, ensuring consumers have access to a wide range of nutritional, quality foods at affordable prices. Read the full letter here and a BBC article on the note here. 

    FDF hosts TA roundtable 
    On 23 March FDF hosted the monthly trade association roundtable, providing a large number of trade bodies across food and drink with the opportunity to hear from Whitehall officials. Topics included the Great Repeal Bill and attendees also discussed customs barriers and the Industrial Strategy. Contact Dominic for more. FDF also had a valuable meeting with Theo Leonard from DExEU’s stakeholder engagement team last week. 

    FDF representatives meet Ireland’s Ambassador to the UK
    On 28 March Ian Wright and Tim Rycroft (Corporate Affairs Director, FDF) met with HE Daniel Mulhall, Ireland's ambassador to the UK, for a constructive discussion. The Ambassador will be leaving for a new posting from August and his replacement will be Adrian O'Neill, who currently leads a division within the Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. They discussed the importance of seamless border arrangements with Northern Ireland and the challenges facing Ireland’ s integrated agri-food industry. 

    FDF in Brussels 
    FDF’s Public Affairs team visited Brussels last Wednesday 29 March, meeting UK MEPs to discuss Brexit and the potential impact on UK food and drink. There was significant interest in the sector, particularly in understanding complex supply chains. MEPs will today endorse their political priorities for the negotiations. They also heard from UKRep who reiterated the UK’s active involvement in current legislative discussions and EFTA on their trading model.

    Other news

    Starting gun fired on Article 50 
    On 29 March the letter triggering Article 50 was passed to EUCO President Donald Tusk, officially starting the two-year process. It set out seven key principles that will guide the UK’s negotiating position ahead. 
    These include securing a comprehensive agreement, paying particular attention to the UK’s relationship and border with Ireland, and beginning technical talks as soon as possible. You can read the PM’s full letter here. FDF’s statement is here and FoodDrinkEurope’s statement is here. 
    As promised, the European Council on Friday published their draft Brexit guidelines from the European Council, reiterating their preference for ‘divorce first’, future relationship second. The leaders of the EU27 will aim to adopt the guidelines at their special summit on 29 April, although the most difficult political discussions will wait until after the German federal elections in September. Today (Wednesday) the European Parliament voted in favour of a motion setting out its position for the negotiations by 516 to 133. Read more here. 

    FDF has produced a useful timetable for the Brexit process, which can be viewed here.
    PM statement to the House 
    The PM’s statement on 29 March in the House of Commons regarding Brexit was followed by a four-hour debate. APPG for Food and Drink Manufacturing Chair John Stevenson asked the PM if she would take into account the needs of the sector, highlighting our size, export strengths, and impact of EU laws. Read the full exchange here.
    Great Repeal Bill White Paper
    On 30 March, Government published the White Paper on the Great Repeal Bill, available to read in full here. The Bill will be formally introduced via the Queen’s Speech on 17 May 2017, alongside Bills on immigration, customs and more. It focuses on the legal aspects of the Bill, and the need for continuity and certainty, which FDF welcomes. DExEU have published this guidance for businesses.

    House of Commons Exiting the EU report 
    The Exiting the European Union Committee has concluded in its report published 4 April on the UK's negotiating objectives for withdrawal from EU that the Government's assertion that "no deal is better than a bad deal" is unsubstantiated and an economic assessment of "no deal" having been done should be carried out. Read the report here. 

    Brexit provides “golden opportunity” say UK farm unions
    On Monday, the four UK farming unions (the National Farmers’ Union, Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Cymru & NFU Scotland) said that Brexit provides a “golden opportunity” to review regulations governing the agricultural sector, not only to ensure continuity, but to deliver a regulatory framework suited to UK farmers. They called on the Government “to look at ways to ensure agriculture operates under an efficient & streamlined regulatory system, for instance through a future Agriculture Bill”. 

    DExEU SoS and PM comments on migration 
    Speaking on the BBC’s Question Time on 27 March, Rt Hon David Davis indicated that migration levels would rise and fall depending on need, adding that a "sustainable" system would take into account the needs of the NHS and different industries. He confirmed Government would not seek to cap the number of EU migrants working in the UK after Brexit. This has led to suggestions that the Government is looking at a system of quotas set by a body such as the Migration Advisory Council. 

    Theresa May also said today (Wednesday) that free movement of people from the EU to the UK could be extended after Brexit. The Prime Minister said there would be an "implementation" phase once an exit deal had been struck, with business and governments needing a "period of time" to adjust to any new restrictions. Read more here. 

    Update on trade conditions post-Brexit
    Rumours swirl that diplomatic momentum is growing in Brussels for an interim trade deal with the UK that sets no tariffs on manufactured goods and food but restricts British services such as aviation and finance. Read more here. 

    As part of a trade visit, the PM told media yesterday that the shape of a future EU-UK trade relationship would be defined within two years, even if it wasn’t signed-off on during that period. Politico reports, “I’m clear that by the point in which we leave the European Union it’s right that everybody should know what the future arrangement, the future relationship, that future partnership between us and the EU will be”.

    Update on customs technology 
    Confidence in the successful implementation of a new computer system designed to collect customs duties and clear imports “has collapsed,” the chairman of British parliament’s treasury committee, Andrew Tyrie MP, said in a statement on 31 March. According to Mr Tyrie, the computer system, called the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), “was given a ‘green’ rating, meaning it was successful and on time.” But “major risks” have meant the project is now “in doubt” and has been downgraded to amber/red. Read more here. 

    Recommended reading 

    The CBI has outlined in a report the main areas addressed in the Great Repeal Bill White Paper and what businesses should be thinking about in relation to the Bill.

    On 28 March, think tank Demos issued a report on Making the most of Brexit outlining the opportunities and risks to a fairer, more sustainable economy. 

    The National Assembly for Wales External Affairs and Additional Legislation Committee examines the implications for Wales of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. The Committee’s latest Brexit Update is available here.

    The Pet Food Manufacturers’ Association published a Brexit manifesto, highlighting their immediate and longer term priorities, including the need to protect and grow a strong agricultural sector to supply high quality raw materials.

    The British-Irish Chamber of Commerce has issued a paper on its ‘Frontline Project’ which looks at the border issue between the UK and Republic of Ireland. 

    At the beginning of 2017 the All-Party Parliamentary Manufacturing Group surveyed and consulted with members on their views around Brexit to form a group submission to the 'Exiting the EU' select committee inquiry and allow the voice of the manufacturing sector to be heard. Read the report here. 

    The House of Commons Library has published a paper on the red lines and stated negotiating positions and principles of the main parties in the UK’s leaving of the EU, these being the UK, the European Council, Commission, and Parliament.

    EEF has issued a report on UK trade with the EU outlining that in their opinion loss of access to both the single market and the customs union would condemn the manufacturing sector to a painful and costly Brexit.

    Open Europe has published a paper arguing that leaving the EU’s Customs Union is the only logical step for the UK to pursue an independent trade policy and achieve a truly ‘Global Britain’ outside the EU.

    Dean Godson of Policy Exchange has issued a call for evidence on the theme of “Deal or No Deal. What happens if we leave the EU without a comprehensive agreement?” Read more about how to submit here.  

    Germany’s farming association (DBV) voiced concerns about the status of German food exports to the UK worth €4.8bn in 2015, highlighting the impact Russia’s ban on food and drink imports had on EU agri-food markets.

    Comments and suggestions 

    We are keen to include the stories of most relevance to you. Therefore, if you have any suggestions for features or comments on our content, please get in touch with us at Matthew.Evans@fdf.org.uk 

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