FARMERS’ representatives described the trade deal reached between the EU and the UK as ‘a relief,’ but said that it will pose significant difficulties for the Irish agri-food sector, while fishermen’s organisations feel hard done-by.
President of the IFA, Tim Cullinan, said, ‘The work of the two sides to avoid a “no-deal” has to be acknowledged, particularly after four years of damaging uncertainty which had an impact on farm incomes. However, the eventual outcome leaves little reason to celebrate.’
He commended the work of the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier for his patience and perseverance in pursuit of an outcome that steered away from a crash-out situation, but said: ‘We have real concerns about how non-tariff barriers will impact on our ability to keep trade flows moving. The scenes at Dover, with hundreds of trucks backed up and freight delayed, does not bode well. Green Lanes have been implemented previously for food exports. These must be prioritised after January 1st,’ he said.
Tim Cullinan also said the longer-term implication for our food exports could be the flooding of the UK market by cheap imports. ‘We know the UK agenda is to offer access to their food market to Australia, New Zealand Canada, the US and the Mercosur countries of South America in exchange for trade deals with those countries.’
‘Farmers here on the island of Ireland and in the UK are steadfast in their view of standards,’ he said, warning: ‘The danger is that the deal isn’t robust enough to ensure the regulations of the Single Market are adhered to.’
Meanwhile, Patrick Murphy, CEO of the Irish South & West Fish Producers Organisation, told The Southern Star: ‘Our fishermen need to be shown the same consideration as our UK fishermen. We joined the European common fishery in 1973 and believe, as they do, we got a bad deal.
‘Now that the European Parliament, the European Commission and all 27 member states admit this, we too want a new Common Fishery Policy based on zonal attachment.’
He said: ‘Relative stability has failed Ireland’s coastal communities and, if now, two different criteria are to be used in deciding how this shared resource is to allocated, then the European institutions are no longer fit for purpose.’