Ahead of next week’s EU Summit to discuss Brexit, IFA President Joe Healy visited the border between Norway and Sweden yesterday to examine the impact on business and trade when crossing a land border between a country inside the EU and one outside.
Joe Healy was leading an IFA delegation that includes National Officers & County Chairs. At the border, the IFA delegation was given a joint briefing from senior customs officials from Norway and Sweden.
Many in the UK have cited the Norway/Sweden border as an example of a border which causes minimum disruption to trade. However, the IFA President said he was struck by “the logistical challenges for trade that arise from the border despite the fact that the arrangement has been in place for over 20 years”.
“While Norway is part of the EEA and the Single Market, the fact that it is not in the Customs Union leads to inevitable bureaucracy and checking, which causes delays and adds to the cost of doing business.”
“There is no question that the border crossing poses significant difficulties for those who wish to trade between the two countries. Technological advances cannot mask the fact that having a border with a country outside the EU is extremely challenging.”
Joe Healy said there is growing concern among farmers about the about the lack of progress on the Brexit talks. “Two years on from the decision, we need clarity on what the outcome will be. There is a general acceptance that not much progress will be made in Brussels next week, but the withdrawal agreement is due to be finalised by October. Our position remains: no border on the island of Ireland, no border in the Irish Sea and no scope for the UK to pursue a cheap food policy.”
Mr Healy welcomed the solidarity from the EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker during his visit to Dublin and said the impact on Ireland, and our largest indigenous sector which is agri-food, has to remain central to the EU negotiating position.
He said the task for the Taoiseach & the Government is to hold the EU to their position and guarantee that Irish farmers are not exposed in the final outcome. “The UK is our best market and we do not want to see trade disrupted, either by value or volume.”