Discussion at Europe House: Brexit & Food

EPLO UK

(European Parliament, 2018)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.

The EPLO in the UK hosted a debate in London aimed at understanding the implications of Brexit on the food industry

On 18 May, the European Parliament Liaison Office in the UK organised a debate exploring the impact of Brexit on the future of UK food policy across the agri-food chain sector.

Moderated by Anna Hill, presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Farming Today, the panel featured industry experts, consumer groups and renowned academics in the field of food and science policy research.

The debate offered an opportunity to discuss how decades of EU food policy will be transferred into UK government legislation and the importance of continued trade with the EU.

These were just some of the topics tackled by the panel. Other points of discussion included how to improve UK food security, the issues faced by the farming industry and the increase in food prices.

Nick Von Westenholz, Director of EU Exit and International Trade at NFU, said “consumers did not vote for more expensive food on supermarket shelves” during the EU referendum. Sue Davies, chief policy adviser on food issues at Which? added that there has been very little consideration of the impact of Brexit on people’s everyday lives.

The EU has held the major competency over food policy for decades, from trade to tariffs and food safety to security. The event aimed to assess what would happen to the current food policies and offered potential solutions for the best deal possible.

Professor Erik Millstone from the University of Sussex pointed out during the debate that food prices are likely to continue to rise post-Brexit, hitting the most economically disadvantaged hardest “who already have terrible diets [and] will continue to suffer.”

Although Anna Hill attempted to provide a balanced view to the debate, there was a general consensus among the panellists that staying in a customs union and single market would be the most viable option for the farming sector. However, the uncertainty that Brexit poses on the agri-food sector is rife.

Julie Girling MEP summarised that whatever happens with Brexit, “we have to minimise the casualties and prevent the crash from happening.”

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