Speaking at the IFA National Council meeting in Dublin, IFA President Joe Healy said the Brexit talks are the most important negotiations for the future of Irish agriculture and our agri-food sector since Ireland joined the EEC in 1973.
Healy said there can be no back-sliding on the backstop and no time limit.
The meeting was also attended by the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney.
Healy said that IFA understands that Irish farmers’ interests lie in maintaining full access and frictionless trade both North/South and East/West between Ireland and Britain, while retaining the full value of the UK market.
The ideal way to achieve this, the group said, would be for the UK to remain within the Single Market and the Customs Union, but it acknowledged that their Government is taking a different approach.
Healy claimed that, with the UK’s departure and its pursuit of an independent trade policy for agri-food, it is impossible to retain a frictionless trade.
“This would open the door to Britain directly competing with the EU in future trade deals, undercutting EU import tariffs and granting additional import quotas, for example to the US, Mercosur, Australia, New Zealand, Canada etc,” Healy said.
“That would be totally unacceptable. In the same way, the UK’s proposal for a so-called ‘common rulebook’ only covers border checks and falls far short of full regulatory alignment with EU standards.”
He expressed concerns that the UK is aiming to avoid complete compliance with EU regulations and standards on various issues in ways that would give their producers clear competitive advantages over EU producers.
The farmers’ group said that, depending on the outcome of the negotiations, a special purpose fund will be required to offset the negative impacts from Brexit, which must be ‘scalable and sufficient to deal with any eventuality’.
© 2018 Checkout – your source for the latest Irish retail news. Article by Aidan O’Sullivan. Click subscribe to sign up for the Checkout print edition.