Calls made for free trade agreement between EU27 and UK post Brexit
FoodDrinkEurope, the EU organisation of the food and drink industry, met in Dublin recently to call for a comprehensive free trade agreement between the EU27 and the UK post Brexit. The group met with An Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Mary Mitchell O’Connor and Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine, Michael Creed as well as with the leaders of many Irish and global food companies and food R&D organisations.
Speaking in advance of the FDE board meeting, An Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, “Ireland is regarded as a major producer of quality food products within the EU and it is testament to the valuable resources, infrastructure and community surrounding the indigenous food and drink industry that the FDE chose to conduct their meeting here. The Government is committed to our membership of the EU and the single market and we look forward to our continued participation with the FDE through Food Drinks Ireland and Enterprise Ireland, as we continue to communicate our strengths within the sector and to deepen our trading relationship within the Eurozone.”
Addressing the visiting delegation, Julie Sinnamon, CEO, Enterprise Ireland said: “The food industry is one of Ireland’s most important sectors. Enterprise Ireland’s FDI client base employ over 10,000 people in Ireland and represent over 35% of our food exports. The visit of the board of FoodDrinkEurope to Ireland is an excellent opportunity to engage at senior level, allowing Irish exporters the chance to network and exchange ideas with global leaders in the food industry and explore the unique challenges facing the industry by Brexit and at the same time, discuss opportunities for collaboration in the future.”
FoodDrinkEurope President Gilles Morel, Regional President Europe & Eurasia of MARS Chocolate, highlighted that across the EU, just as in Ireland, the food and drink sector is the number one manufacturing sector in terms of employment and turnover, and the bedrock of rural communities. Speaking during the visit to Dublin, he stated: “The EU single market underpins the competitiveness of an industry that has an ambition of generating value added growth of 2.5% – 3.5% per year by 2025 and is vital for further success of our industry. We call on the Irish Government and other member states to defend its future and we will make sure the voice of our sector is heard in the negotiations at European level. A comprehensive free trade agreement between the EU27 and the UK is necessary in order to minimise economic uncertainty and potential damage to the food and drink sector across all of Europe. Brexit negotiations must also ensure a transition period to protect the integrated supply chains that many European food companies have between EU27 member states and the UK.”
Ahead of today’s meeting, FDI and FoodDrinkEurope have jointly called for discussions on the future EU-UK trading relationship to be commenced early in the negotiating process and to ensure:
An ambitious and balanced EU27 – UK agreement including a frictionless north-south border on the island of Ireland.
Clear transitional arrangements supportive of EU27 -UK supply chains.
Minimal regulatory divergence.