Its comments followed a meeting with EU chief negotiator on Brexit Michel Barnier, where representatives of the EU’s food and drink industry stressed that an orderly Brexit – including a transition period – remained the only way to prevent the UK’s exit from having a huge impact on the agri-food chain.
However, in a joint letter co-signed by farming groups Copa-Cogeca and CELCAA, FDE warned contingency plans might not be enough to weather the UK crashing out of the EU.
‘Lack the required resources’
“It is also proving difficult for smaller operators to suitably prepare as they will be facing export procedures for the first time and they lack the required resources,” said the letter.
The letter warned the impact of a no-deal Brexit would be immediate and harsh and called on EU institutions to consider unilateral contingency measures specific to the food industry.
FDE added: “[We urge] the Commission to secure EU-wide solutions by encouraging Member States to coordinate and support each other … in order to avoid trade flow distortions.
“In particular, in case of non-compliance at borders, the Commission should ensure a level playing field for operators in dealing with customs officials.”
The joint letter lists a set of effective measures related to customs, labelling, food safety and transport that could soften the impact of a no-deal Brexit on businesses on day one. Click here to read the letter in full.
It also tasked EU Institutions to carefully consider making adjustments to agricultural markets as well as preparing support policies and emergency Brexit funds to deal quickly with any unforeseen events.
FDE’s call for food and drink businesses to start implementing their Brexit contingency plans echoed the comments made by Greencore chief executive Patrick Coveney at this year’s Food Manufacture Business Leaders’ Forum.