Given the unique position of Northern Ireland, the Irish Co-Operative Organisation Society (ICOS) is calling on the European Commission to recognise mixed products as having EU origin status and regain their routes to market, ICOS board director Alo Duffy has said.
The comments come following a meeting with the European Commission, including chief negotiator of the EU-UK Trade and Co-operation Agreement Michel Barnier.
Duffy, who was also representing COPA-COGECA at the meeting, highlighted that since January, products produced on an all-Ireland basis are largely excluded from EU free trade agreements with third countries and support schemes.
“All-Ireland production is now excluded from these vital tools of EU added value, making them highly exposed and at a disadvantage to other EU operators, undermining the value of this production,” Duffy said.
“This is to the detriment of farmers and rural communities in both jurisdictions on the island of Ireland, whose economies are based on the cross-border trade within the agri-food sector.”
Work to be done
Duffy praised the work of the Commission in establishing the Brexit trade deal, but he lamented arrangements on safety and sanitary controls and certification as ‘unambitious’ and ‘damaging’.
“The outcome is just as damaging for EU businesses as it is for the UK. Burdensome and costly processes for health certification and pre-notification are ill-fitting considering the proximity of the UK to Europe.
“We are yet to experience the full extent of these measures of course from within the EU, rather they will take effect for exports to the UK from April and July.
“We are anticipating up to a 14-day delay to get consignments moving come April, when the controls come into place. It also brings a substantial additional associated cost, around 8% or €200 per tonne in the dairy sector.”