EU agencies such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) could be weakened by a loss of British expertise after the UK leaves the EU, according to a European Commission adviser.
Policy analyst Andrew Jarvis, who leads a 150-strong team, told Farmers Guardian the UK was one of the countries which provided most support to EFSA.
“UK scientists, whether it is about food science or crop science, quite often get commissioned to go and work on those appraisals and do the analysis which helps inform decisions at European level”, Mr Jarvis said.
“Soon, they are not going to be able to do that. Those contracts are starting to be cancelled and there are not too many member states which have got that kind of domestic capability – the smaller ones just do not.
“If there are not compensated adjustments fed by money which flows into the Dutch and the French and the Germans instead, then the system as a whole is potentially weakened.”
Concerns have already been raised about the EU’s ability to authorise plant protection products when the UK leaves.
In April, a secret European Commission presentation revealed the UK was much quicker at processing registrations than other countries such as France or Germany, leading to worries European farmers would lose access to new products after Brexit.
As well as having an impact on European regulatory bodies, Mr Jarvis also pointed out Brexit would fundamentally change the EU’s decision-making processes.
Highlighting the UK’s science and evidence-based approach to policy-making, he said: “It is certainly true the UK punched above its weight in terms of shaping the tenor as well as the detail of a huge number of legislative proposals in Brussels.
“If we are now moving into a more distant orbit, it would be naive to think those principles are necessarily going to be sustained and the balance of arguments is going to be the same as was when we were sitting at the table.
“This is not to say the UK was always right and the EU was always wrong, or we were the only member state interested in evidence-based policy, but we were the bigger beast than many of those countries.
“It is inevitable that the system will work in a slightly different way.”