EUROPE – The EU food industry confederation, FoodDrinkEurope has published its policy priorities for the years ahead and called for the “least disruptive outcome” to the final Brexit negotiations.
In an interview with FoodIngredientsFirst, FoodDrinkEurope Director General, Mella Frewen said it expects the EU and UK negotiators to reach an agreement that will least affect the food and beverage sector.
Even as UK plans to leave the EU from March 29, 2019, Mella said she hopes that the move would enable them to continue supporting jobs across Europe and achieve the government ambition of 2.5-3.5% annual growth by 2025.
“Regrettably, this means we have a lot to lose in an unfavorable Brexit outcome – but we are determined to work with all our partners and other stakeholders to find a pragmatic solution and minimize the damage that Brexit may cause.”
“We want to take stock of what the Single Market for food and drinks has brought to us thus far and reflect on how we can further reinforce what we see as the most significant achievement of the EU,” she Frewen.
“We will continue asking policy-makers to champion and defend the EU Single Market for food and drinks, which over recent years has seen an increasing trend towards re-nationalization, protectionism and fragmentation.”
According to her, the next step after Brexit will be focusing on the progress of EU Free Trade Agreements and cooperation with third countries to strengthen bilateral trade relations, consumer information, nutrition and health, and environmental sustainability issues such as packaging, combating food waste, climate and energy.
FDE, in its publications, has guaranteed a fair and strong agri-food supply chain by ensuring a better regulation and less fragmentation of the Single Market.
This will be through investing in food education and setting a strong food trade agenda which recognizes the importance of food in EU policies.
FDE’s new report “Let’s step up to the plate” highlights sustainability, education, and implementing an ambitious food research and innovation policy top on its agenda.
It also pin-points the need for giving more prominence to the food sector in the EU’s Institutional design, including the creation of a Directorate for Food in the European Commission, as well as a dedicated European Parliament Intergroup on Food.
“As the EU enters a new and challenging period, EU policy-makers will play a decisive role in laying the foundations of stability and prosperity for years to come,” Frewen notes.
“This is an important responsibility that will necessitate positive engagement with all stakeholders concerned.”
She added that strengthening and completing the Single Market for food and drinks was necessary to uphold the competitiveness, quality and sustainability of the food and drink sector in Europe and its position as a leader in global trade.
According to a Rabobank report, UK economy stands to be hit negatively in case the European Union (EU) and the UK fail to agree on a Brexit deal.
Rabobank said likely effects may be felt in terms of labour availability, grain exports and the fishing industry.