The EU would ‘never accept’ frictionless trade for agricultural and food products if the UK introduces different environmental rules after Brexit, according to the chair of the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC).
Wakefield MP Mary Creagh made the suggestion to Defra Secretary Michael Gove when he gave evidence to the EAC last week.
Her remarks were prompted by the Cabinet’s Chequers agreement, which proposed a ‘common rule book’ on agri-food regulations, but not those governing the environment.
Ms Creagh said: “The EU is never going to accept that we have frictionless trade in agriculture and food products and we have lower, or potentially lower, environmental standards.
“We are already missing our air pollution targets, we are set to miss our waste targets set by the EU and we are set to miss our water quality targets set by the EU.”
Mr Gove, however, rejected Ms Creagh’s suggestion, pointing out a number of EU member states were already failing to meet air and water quality standards while their trade in agri-food products continued.
He said: “Most of the larger EU nations currently fall foul of EU law, and yet at the same time, observably it is the case that trade is taking place across the EU 28.
“Simply because a country is not yet meeting the legal standards to which is has committed itself, that is not in itself ipso facto a barrier to trade.”