IFA President Joe Healy today (Tues) rejected the claims made by UK Brexit Secretary David Davis, that the December 2017 EU-UK Joint Report on the Article 50 Negotiations allows the UK flexibility to diverge from EU rules. Joe Healy said, “This is a totally unacceptable attempt by the UK to rewrite the December agreement and escape its commitments.”
The Brexit Secretary reportedly said that, although Britain and the EU would enjoy full regulatory alignment at the moment of Brexit, they could diverge as time went on. Mr Davis also claimed that, “Full alignment is really about alignment of outcomes, of regulatory outcomes.”
Mr Healy was addressing the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union in Dublin today, following David Davis’s appearance before the Committee in London yesterday.
The IFA President said that in the December agreement the UK had given its “guarantee of avoiding a hard border” and in the absence of agreed solutions had committed to “maintain full alignment with those rules of the Internal Market and the Customs Union”, which support the all-island economy, where the agriculture and food sector is crucial.
Mr Healy continued “IFA is clear that Ireland and the EU cannot allow the UK off the hook – there can be no deviation or flexibility away from full alignment with EU rules”. He warned that the UK would exploit any flexibility on the EU side to pursue a cheap-food policy with lower standards, which would have disastrous consequences for the value of Irish food exports to the British market”
The IFA President said, “The best outcome for the Irish and EU agri-food sector would be for the UK to stay within the Single Market and Customs Union or for the EU and UK to reach a new arrangement that binds the UK within the existing trading arrangements without undermining the integrity of the Single Market.
“If the UK is to honour the commitments it gave in the December agreement, the reality is it must abandon any ambitions it may have for an independent trade policy in agriculture and food products,” Joe Healy concluded.