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Defra hoping for quick resolution to UK 'no deal' export status

12th Mar 2019 / By Alistair Driver

Defra has told the NPA it is hoping for a quick resolution on the UK’s status for exporting animals and animal products to the EU in the event of a ‘no deal’.

The UK’s future after March 29 is more uncertain than ever today as the prospects of the Prime Minister getting MPs to back her Withdrawal Agreement in a vote this evening appear to be fading. There is no clarity on what happens next if she loses the vote – leaving on March 29 without a deal, a delayed Brexit and even a General Election are among the possibilities.

One of the food and farming sector’s biggest concerns over a no deal scenario is that it could result in an embargo on exports to the EU until the UK’s application to be listed as a third country exporter has been accepted.

Defra has informed the NPA that, in order to be prepared for all possible outcomes, the UK has submitted its application for listing as a third country to continue exporting live animals and animal products to the EU post-Brexit. While it is hoping for a decision by the end of this month, the Department acknowledges that the outcome ‘cannot be certain’.

The Commission’s published Contingency Action Plan states that: “On the basis of the EU veterinary legislation, the Commission will – if justified – swiftly ʻlistʼ the United Kingdom, if all applicable conditions are fulfilled, so as to allow the entry of live animals and animal products from the United Kingdom into the European Union.”

Defra said: “Following the UK’s application there has been a technical discussion between the UK and the European Commission on becoming an approved third country for the export of live animals and animal products. Interaction with the European Commission is continuing to support our application. 

“The relevant EU committee should meet before the end of March to consider the UK’s listing, however we cannot be certain of the outcome. In the event of a no deal, without listed status exports of animal products and most live animals to the EU could not take place.”

NPA reaction

NPA senior policy advisor Ed Barker said: “A delay in our ability export to the EU while we become registered as a third country is just one of a number of problems a no deal could pose for the pig sector. We are therefore pleased that Defra has submitted its application to achieve the necessary listing – and we hope it will be looked on favourably by the time of our scheduled departure.

“Of more immediate concern is what is going to happen if the Prime Minister loses tonight’s vote. There is no obvious end in sight to the uncertainty surrounding our sector.”

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