EDA urges pragmatism be made a priority for EU-UK future relationship

The upcoming negotiation rounds on the EU-UK future relationship will determine the future of the European and UK dairy sectors. Any shock to this sector will affect the industrial and societal backbone of rural Europe. The European Dairy Association (EDA) has therefore, and considering the announced negotiating rounds in August and September, called for an unprecedented level of pragmatism to the EU-UK negotiations. The Association said it believes a delicate balance must be found to the benefit of citizens and business of both sides of the Channel. This will mean that the EU internal market is preserved and protected and a level playing field assured, while both parties acknowledge that the UK needs its room to manoeuvre.

EU dairy exports amount to around 99% (by volume) of the UK dairy imports while around 92% (by volume) of the UK exports are destined for the EU, these amounts have a high value for both parties. The UK has decided to leave the EU and the internal market and this will of course also have its economic impact, but the EDA urges that the UK and EU do not ask the consumers and business to throw billions of euros and pounds a year out of the window due to unnecessary trade barriers.

“Let’s make sure that consumers on both sides can still enjoy a great variety of dairy products of high standards at reasonable prices; ideally by securing close cooperation with zero tariffs on dairy trade and as little border administration/costs as possible,” suggested the Association in a statement.

Failure to reach an agreement runs the risk of significantly disrupting dairy trade flows in both directions. More than 1.2 million tonnes of EU dairy products might have to find new markets, or UK consumers will have to absorb the increased tariff cost. The in 2019 to the UK exported volumes of EU cheese would reportedly, under the new proposed UK Global Tariff, suffer an additional cost of over €800 million.

The export of UK dairy products to the EU would also become commercially difficult, given the EU’s WTO MFN tariff schedule.

The EDA says it stands ready to discuss this pragmatism in order to secure a deal, as it is clear that the current impasse will be extremely damaging for consumers, farmers and companies in the EU and UK. The Association says it speaks for itself that the level playing field provisions signed up to by the UK in the Withdrawal agreement, as well as the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland included in the Withdrawal Agreement, are honoured in negotiations.

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