The Prime Minister will sign a letter that will formally begin the two-year process of the UK’s departure from the EU, commonly known as Brexit. This comes after the UK held a referendum in June in which 52% of those counted voted to leave the EU.
With Theresa May set to trigger Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, this site – and UK-focused sister title Meat Trades Journal – spoke to the meat industry to ascertain what it wants once Brexit talks begin.
Katie Doherty, policy and operations manager for the International Meat Trade Association (IMTA), said there needed to be a transitional phase of trade to prevent industry falling off a cliff edge. She also said more clarity was needed.
“As Article 50 is triggered, we hope that industry will be able to get more of that certainty Theresa May talked about in her speech from both the UK government but also what position the EU will take for the forthcoming negotiations.
“We understand that there will be a meeting of the European Council in late April whereby the EU’s principles for engagement will be agreed.”
Europe’s largest farming body, Copa-Cogeca, said the move would hurt the agri-business sector in both the UK and Europe.
“We regret the UK’s decision to launch Brexit proceedings,” said Pekka Pesonen, secretary general of Copa-Cogeca.
“With this decision of the UK government, we believe that farmers and agri-businesses on both sides will be hit hard. Consumers, too, who have up until now enjoyed a good choice of quality produce from across the EU will feel the impact.
“[We] have serious concerns about the potential trade and budget impact of Brexit on European farmers and their cooperatives. We believe that farmers and their families shouldn’t have to pay the price of Brexit. We expect the UK government to honour its commitments in the current EU budget framework and also programmes that it subscribed to which go beyond 2020.”
Director general of the UK-based Food and Drink Federation (FDF) Ian Wright said it was imperative a good deal was reached quickly.
“The results of the negotiation will have lasting implications – for our people, businesses and economy. Food is at the heart of our culture, identity and security. It is vital that the [UK] government prioritises food and drink.”