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Government commits to no additional Day One checks on agricultural products in No Deal

20 December 2018

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee welcomes the Government's commitment not to immediately impose additional checks on imports of agricultural products in the event of a no deal Brexit, but stresses that cooperation from the EU is now essential.

In its response to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee's report on Brexit and Agriculture, the Government has committed to taking a "risk based approach" to import checks, which will see no additional checks applied to agricultural products at the Irish border on Day 1 of leaving the EU without a deal. The Committee welcomes this clarification for Northern Ireland's agricultural industry, which has been waiting for assurances on how cross border trade will operate in a no deal scenario. The industry will now look to the EU to make a similar commitment so that vital cross-border trade in agricultural products is not disrupted.

Despite the welcome clarification on trade, the Government's response otherwise fails to take action on the Committee's recommendations on urgent priorities for Northern Ireland's agricultural sector. The Government stresses that a Northern Ireland Executive is the only way a tailored agriculture policy for Northern Ireland can be devised, but the Committee's report was clear that the Government cannot continue to rely on an imminently restored Executive to address the pressing issue of preparing Northern Ireland's agri-food industry for life outside the EU. In particular, the Government must clarify whether DAERA will be able to authorise a policy that will avoid additional border checks in a no deal scenario, if there is no Assembly in place to do so.

Chair's comments

Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Dr Andrew Murrison MP said:

"Farmers and producers across Northern Ireland have been crying out for some explanation from the Government of how they will be able to trade with Ireland after Brexit. The Government's response to my Committee's report on agriculture commits to avoiding checks on agricultural products at the Irish border. This is a step in the right direction, but further clarity is still needed on the important issues of financial support, live animal exports and the agricultural work force.

It is essential that exports of agricultural products to Ireland do not face unnecessarily stringent checks. The ball in now in the EU's court to make a similar commitment to the UK."

Further information

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