New figures show the UK is outperforming most other EU member states when it comes to authorising plant protection products, leading to concerns European farmers will lose access to them when the UK leaves the EU.
Farmers Guardian has seen a secret presentation given by European Commission officials last month which revealed the UK was much quicker at processing registrations than other countries such as France or Germany.
For the year 2013-14, the UK received 285 applications for evaluation of new products – more than any other member state. It went on to make decisions on 69 per cent of those applications.
France received the second largest number of applications, 248, but only made decisions on 14 per cent.
Germany performed even worse, making decisions on just 2 per cent of the 140 applications it received.
According to Kersten Mewes, head of European regulation at Syngenta, applications made in Germany are often held up by political conflict between the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Environment as both are involved in the registration process.
Graeme Taylor, director of public affairs at the European Crop Protection Association, said: “With the complexity of the EU process, few member states are able to manage the workload to ensure products are authorised and made available to farmers in a timely manner.
“The UK Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) has shown to be one of the better authorities in meeting the deadlines for EU evaluations.
“If CRD is removed from the equation, we are concerned there will be even bigger delays which will impact innovation and reduce the number of solutions available for farmers.”
Fears are also growing about where approvals will be renewed after Brexit as the UK has traditionally shouldered much of the burden.
The Commission’s presentation showed countries such as France and Germany did not know the answers to simple questions such as how long it takes to process an application or how many applications they would get the following year.
They did, however, claim they needed more staff, though they were unable to say how many or which areas they would work in. The UK, Luxembourg and Lithuania answered all the questions and said they did not require any more staff.