Brexit and next steps

The big news last week was the advent of Brexit here in the UK. This week, we start figuring out what this actually means, and what the EU and UK will wind up with as a partnership. The key issue for both European and the UK dairy industries is, what our outlook will be. Will agriculture be subsumed in the demands of the automotive or finance industry? Will environmental and food safety standards be compromised to get the trade deals concluded?

The European Dairy Association for its part released a statement in conjunction with Dairy UK asking for considerations such as zero tariffs and quotas between the EU27 and the UK on dairy and dairy related products, the greatest possible alignment in standards to minimise trade frictions and mechanisms to ensure that any divergence in standards cause minimal disruption to trade, as well as robust rules of origin to protect both markets from third party imports, along with no technical barriers to trade. Ireland was also mentioned, unsurprisingly.

The issues that unite the EU and the UK are many in the dairy sector, and as Pekka Pesonen of Copa-Cogeca noted on Farming Today on BBC4 radio this morning, the UK has been an active of member of many of the European organisations for the agricultural sector. (Please also see our interview with him in the March issue of Dairy Industries International.)

Now, there may be less of an impetus for other countries to hear what the UK is saying on trade and dairy products, or perhaps the UK to ignore Europe more often, but listening to each other will definitely be beneficial to both sides.

In fact, this may be the opportunity we’ve all been looking for – sometimes it’s not until the divorce that the partners start working together again, to the greater benefit of their shared interests. UK and EU, think of the agriculture, and don’t fight in front of the farmers and processors. The work starts now.

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