The comprehensive proposal includes a transitional period from March 29, 2019, (the date the UK will officially leave the EU), until December 31, 2020, when existing EU laws will continue to apply, and UK exporters maintain their current access to EU markets.
After December 2020, however, the bets are off – the additional time is supposed to give breathing space for the UK and the EU to negotiate a permanent post-Brexit agreement.
Under the Commission’s current proposals (which does not predict any long-term deal – although this may still be agreed), most goods sold into the EU before December 21, 2020, are supposed to circulate freely afterwards. However, this promise does not include livestock and meat products, (including feed) which are specifically exempted from this commitment.
Meanwhile, under the draft, current EU geographical indications, designation of origin, and traditional speciality guaranteed protections, including of British products, would continue to be recognised across the EU and the UK, once the transitional period had expired.
Some of these proposals will be welcome news to the UK-based Food & Drink Federation. A spokesman said that businesses must have confidence that any new systems are up and running before UK’s departure from the EU “to avoid chaos at borders and disruption to our food chain”.
Above all, the government and remaining 27 EU member states must come to an agreement in March on how Britain transitions out of the EU, he said. Meanwhile, Brussels-based EU food producers association Copa-Cogeca is pushing for a “comprehensive trade agreement which will keep the UK in the single market and customs union” said a spokesperson.
However, if this is not possible, both parties need to “find a new customs arrangement that enables frictionless trade as much as possible whilst preserving the integrity of the single market” in the remaining EU.
Brexit negotiations must not be concluded without providing tariff-free trade between the EU and UK, said the spokesperson. And transitional arrangements, which maintain the status quo, must also be agreed.