While the UK government wrestles with all possible scenarios – crashing out with no deal, extending the deadline by anywhere from several months to a year, or even a possible second referendum and remaining in the EU – the EDA is urging a smooth Brexit for the sake of the dairy industry.
Across the 28 current EU member countries, there are 700,000 dairy farms, 12,000 milk and processing sites, and more than 300,000 people working in the sector.
Last week, the UK government issued some potential guidelines on tariffs that would see no tariffs on some products, but a tariff would be imposed on EU cheese. Cheddar cheese, for example, would see a price hike of £20 ($26.54) per 100kg.
EDA chair Michel Nalet, in a letter to EU Council President, Donald Tusk and Permanent Representatives of the EU Member States ahead of the European Council meeting this week in Brussels, said, “This week will determine the future direction of Brexit and with it, the future of the European and UK dairy sectors. The European dairy industry is integrated across borders. This is especially true for the island of Ireland but applies also to the rest of Europe.”
New scale of crisis
Nalet stated Brexit has the potential to create a completely new scale of a milk crisis.
“We have elaborated jointly with our colleagues from DairyUK our concept of a ‘Future EU – UK Dairy Framework’ as a basis for a well-managed and responsible Brexit.
Since the Brexit process began, we have consistently advocated for the UK to leave the EU with a deal that protects the close trading relationship and ensures the long-term viability of the EU dairy sector. As we have said before, a no deal would be disastrous for dairy farmers and consumers on both sides of the channel. This week is an opportunity to ensure that this doesn’t happen. And hence, it is a time of responsibility of all decision makers involved.”
On the potential for the March 29 deadline to not be met, Nalet stated, “If as expected, the UK asks for the date for Brexit to be extended, we would encourage and expect the European Council to accept this step and we would urge both sides to come together to work out the final details. This will ensure a smoother exit and importantly a transition period that will allow negotiations on an ambitious future trade relationship to begin quickly.”