Brexit Speech Is Disappointing & Does Not Move Forward the Negotiations on Trade and the Border

IFA President Joe Healy said today’s speech by British Prime Minister Theresa May was disappointing and does not move forward the Brexit talks, nor does it address our concerns about the future trading relationship between the EU and the UK.

The UK’s negotiating position is unrealistic in seeking a new framework that would give the UK the full benefits of EU membership on trade, while staying outside the Single Market, the Customs Union and even the European Economic Area.

Joe Healy said, “The most straightforward means of keeping the current border arrangements, and minimising the disruption to trade between the EU and the UK, is to agree a trading relationship that does not require customs and regulatory checks. Despite Theresa May’s commitment to no physical infrastructure on the Irish border, she didn’t acknowledge the serious compromises that the UK will have to make on its trading ambitions with third countries for the EU to agree to this”.

The IFA President said that Ireland must have as its top priority the retention of the UK in the Customs Union, or a trading arrangement that would a have similar effect. “Irish and EU agri-food exports cannot be undermined by an increase in low-cost food imports into the UK market, or by imports that do not meet the high food safety, animal welfare, health and environmental standards that are required of EU producers.”

Joe Healy said the UK’s acceptance of Budget contributions during the implementation period, while it didn’t have specific figures, does mark a step forward. We are very concerned that overall progress in the negotiations is too slow.

The weakening of Sterling since the UK General Election has had major repercussions for Irish farmers. Beef farmers were losing up to €2m/week during August and early September because of the negative sentiment on the pound around the Brexit talks.

IFA is campaigning for the Government to seek direct support at EU level for farm level measures that counteract the price drops. In next month’s national Budget, we need to see practical Government support to improve competitiveness and support for farm incomes is required. “This includes making available further low cost bank financing to farmers, and increasing funding for the Areas of Natural Constraint and the Beef Data and Genomics Programmes.”

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