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Agrifood leaders meet Taoiseach Enda Kenny on Brexit issues




IFA and representatives from the agri-food industry met the Taoiseach Enda Kenny today, at which the key issues for the sector arising from Brexit were put forward ahead of the crucial EU Summit on Saturday.
 
Representatives from Food Drink Ireland, Meat Industry Ireland and the Irish Dairy Industry Association joined IFA President Joe Healy in making a strong case for the measures needed by the sector. 
 
Joe Healy said, “Brexit has the potential to have a devastating impact on farming and food. It’s our largest indigenous sector and the UK is our most important market. Our message to the Taoiseach was clear: the sector’s issues have to be at the forefront of what is agreed by the EU leaders next week-end”.
 
The delegation put forward a number of short and medium term measures to support the agri-food sector:
 The relaxation of state aids restrictions at both farming and industry level that impact on the ability of Ireland to address critical stabilisation support measures and strategic transformative initiatives. “Brexit – the exceptional case for state aid supports for the food and drink sector”(attached) sets out a comprehensive case justifying the necessary relaxation in EU state aid restrictions for Ireland in the light of the fracture and serious disturbance caused to the Irish economy resulting from Brexit;   
 Brexit Negotiations
 In addition, the delegation identified the key priorities for the sector in relation to the EU negotiating mandate for the Brexit negotiations. These were:
Discussions on the future EU-UK trading relationship
In order to minimise economic uncertainty and the potential for major economic damage for exposed sectors, discussions on the future EU-UK relationship must be commenced early in the negotiating process.
Maintaining access to and the value of the UK Market
The retention of free access to and maintenance of the value of the UK market is of critical importance. In addition, disruption to the highly integrated trade flows between Ireland and Northern Ireland must be minimised.  To achieve this, a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the EU and UK is required, with the optimum outcome that the UK remains within the EU Customs Union. The FTA must include the following elements:
•  Both sides must commit to negotiate an ambitious and balanced agreement that prioritises continued tariff and barrier free trade, long-term growth, investment and stability.
• The agreement should take account of the special case of the island of Ireland, ensuring that the highly integrated supply chains can continue to operate with free movement of goods and services.
•  In acceding to a FTA with the UK, the EU must ensure that the value of the UK market is not undermined through lower cost imports, which do not meet the standards required of the EU agri-food sector.
 
CAP Budget Post 2020
EU solidarity with farmers requires that there must be no reduction in the CAP budget arising from the UK exit.
   
Transitional arrangements
Transitional arrangements for businesses to plan and prepare for any new FTA arrangements must be put in place, as required. It is critical that companies retain as full access to each other’s markets as possible. The transitional arrangements must prioritise:  
Overall, customs procedures must be dealt with as part of the first phase of Article 50 negotiations.
 
Structural and Adjustment Funding
Structural and adjustment funding must be provided by the EU, if required, to the farming and food sectors that are disadvantaged due to changes in the relationship post Brexit between the EU and UK.
 
 
Wednesday, 26 April 2017


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