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Mon 16 September 2019
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No deal scenarios – EU civil servants voting today on UK meat and dairy farmers’ access to EU Market

UK Government is working against the clock to get the permissions necessary to sell meat and dairy to Europe in a no deal scenario

The European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCOPAFF) is voting today on whether to allow UK farmers to and the food industry to continue trading meat, dairy and animal products with the EU if the UK leaves Europe without a deal.

The UK Department for Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is more than a month behind on the schedule. Michael Gove initially promised that all necessary laws would be in force by the end of February 2019, but having spoken to insiders Byline Times understands that the laws have been put together hastily and could easily be challenged at a later date.

If the UK is deemed to fall short of the EU’s laws in any way, then market access would not be granted, prompting fears last week from Lords that 10,000 tonnes of sheep and other food products that usually travel to the EU each spring could be gridlocked on the UK’s shores.

However, Defra told Byline Times that they anticipate success in today’s votes by the EU Commission.

Defra ministers believe they have now passed all the legislation they need for the UK to remain compliant with EU food safety standards.

Environment Secretary Michael Gove told a sub-committee of Lords last week that the UK has “done everything” to ensure continued market access “including pledging that if necessary we will retain dynamic alignment to EU rules for the remainder of this year”. This is “in order to ensure that …products can travel to the EU.”

However, the application of tariffs in event of a no deal Brexit will come as a shock to the UK food and farming industry. Defra’s plans for state aid to vulnerable agricultural sectors is not yet transparent. Michael Gove has spoken publicly of plans to give sheep farmers aid “per head of breeding ewe”, but Defra has not yet published its plans for supporting farms and small businesses if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Meanwhile, the Department for International Trades is behind schedule in its plan to protect UK industries such as farmers from the impact of tariffs, including a potential influx of cheap foreign products if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

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MPs were informed last week that DIT’s Designate Chair of their no deal Brexit trade watchdog, Sir David Wright, resigned in the week before the 29th March, with immediate effect for personal reasons.

DIT will be recruiting for a new chair of the shadow watchdog, Trade Remedies Investigations Unit to work alongside the watchdog’s chief executive Claire Bassett in offering remedies to domestic businesses that could be impacted by unfair trade in a global market.

Contact @avwinter – alex@bylinetimes.com – if you have any tips on the Government’s Brexit law-making

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