UK Meat industry view on the EU Withdrawal Bill
The BMPA has consistently campaigned for frictionless trade with the EU and a longer transition period post Brexit. On the face of it this withdrawal bill delivers against those criteria.
However, there is still much uncertainty causing concern for consumers, retailers and the meat industry alike, not least the possibility that the Bill will be rejected by Parliament and a no-deal Brexit triggered.
Crashing out with no deal would risk higher prices and reduced availability of many food products. We must end up with a withdrawal agreement that can protect frictionless, tariff-free trade throughout the subsequent transition period.
In addition we still have concerns about the migrant labour situation. Whilst it is accepted that free movement of people from the EU is coming to an end, if Government over-restricts EEA migration we will see a negative impact on businesses and consumers.
A new immigration system must enable efficient and straightforward recruitment across all skill levels. If this doesn’t happen the cost of recruitment will rise and this will translate into a rise in the everyday cost of living.
On the whole there seem to be some good pragmatic solutions in the bill, given the complexities of the negotiations, which will give food businesses some security and confidence, and at the same time mean that the consumer has access to affordable and sustainable food. The question is whether this withdrawal Bill will be accepted. If not, we should prepare for the harsh realities of a no-deal scenario.