Farming groups from across the EU are pushing for free trade in agricultural goods with the UK post-Brexit, Farmers Guardian has learned.
Unions in Germany, Italy, Denmark and Holland emphasised the importance of their trading relationships with the UK as Irish Farmers Association president Joe Healy warned ‘politics cannot be allowed to override fundamental economic interests’ during Brexit talks.
In France and Spain, the FNSEA and UPA have both expressed concerns about sterling’s weakness having an impact upon trade, which tariffs would disrupt further.
The news will be welcomed by Brexiteers as farming unions on the continent are well-known for their strength.
Joachim Rukwied, president of the German farming union DBV, said: “An open market with the UK should have a high priority in the Brexit negotiations. The UK is an important market for German agriculture.
“The agricultural export surplus of Germany with the UK is almost twice as high as our total exports to the USA, at €3.4 billion.”
Dutch farming union the LTO is ‘strongly supporting’ Mr Rukwied as Britain is the Netherlands’ second-largest market for agri-food exports.
Koert Verkerk from the LTO said: “We are already trying to push our Government in maintaining as open a relationship with the UK as possible. We are discussing this with our Ministry of Economic Affairs and our Prime Minister.”
Italian and Danish farming unions Confagricoltura and the Danish Agriculture and Food Council (DAFC) expressed a little more caution.
Paolo Distefano, Confagricoltura’s Brussels spokesman, said the group could not ‘pass over the political signal Brexit gave’, and Morten Bonde Pederson from the DAFC felt the UK needed to do more to show it valued the EU market.
But both underlined the importance of the UK market to their respective farming industries.
Mr Distefano said the status quo of zero tariff and non-tariff barriers would be the best post-Brexit option because the UK is the fourth biggest EU market for Italy’s agrifood exports.
“We will soon start a debate at ministerial level to try to find the best possible option which does not undermine the agrifood sector”, he added.
Mr Bonde Pederson said the DAFC has lobbied and will continue to lobby the Danish Government for free access to the UK market.