The seamless trading arrangements that Irish agri-food exports enjoyed before the UK left the EU have been lost, Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue has warned.

While the last-minute deal brokered between the UK and the European bloc removes the Armageddon threat of €2.5bn of tariffs on Irish food and drink, the minister cautioned about the changes ahead.

“Our preparations for new regulatory checks and controls that come into effect on 1 January 2021 must continue unabated,” he urged.

“The fact is that the UK has left the EU, and will trade with the EU as a third country from 1 January. From a regulatory point of view, new sanitary and phytosanitary requirements in the form of documentary, identity and physical checks will apply to imports of animals, plants, and products of animal and plant origin from Great Britain, as set out in EU legislation.

“The seamless trading arrangements in place while the UK was a member of the single market will no longer be possible, and disruption and additional costs will arise.”


The minister pledged that his department, in conjunction with other departments, would ensure that the necessary controls are conducted in a manner that ensures the minimum possible disruption to trade flows while also meeting EU regulatory requirements.

“We will also ensure that new certification requirements in respect of exports to Great Britain, which are being phased in from 1 January, will be complied with, but again, this will bring new processes, administration and costs that have not been experienced in respect of such trade until now,” he said.

“Finally, I want to reassure our farmers and fishers that the Government will stand with them in helping them deal with the implications of this Brexit outcome. We will continue to listen to, engage with and support all sectors in the time ahead.”

Fisheries and supports

With quotas for fish cut as part of the Brexit deal, McConalogue said the Government fully understood the concerns of fishermen.

“We will work together with the sector to develop the necessary supports and approach to address these impacts. We will also examine the wider economic impacts on the agri-food and fisheries sectors that will arise, and consider the development of appropriate and targeted supports, including through engagement with the European Commission on the Brexit Adjustment Reserve.”