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Food sector bodies provide mixed response to Brexit transition deal

Food sector bodies provide mixed response to Brexit transition deal

Negotiators achieved a landmark deal this morning on transition agreements which will last for almost two years once the United Kingdom leaves Europe next year.

"Similarly, negotiations must avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, where ingredients, finished products and workers cross the border many times a day".

European Union leaders are expected to sign off on the agreement at a summit on Thursday and Friday, clearing the way for a 21-month transition period that will start on Brexit day on 29 March 2019 and will last until December 31 2020.

Even so, Barnier made it clear that the transition agreement could not be considered legally binding until after ratification of a wider agreement on withdrawal, which negotiators say they hope to reach in the fall.

"This agreement, if ratified, is a short-term fix but extends the timeframe during which a more comprehensive Brexit can be properly negotiated".

But he stressed that the thorny issue of how to avoid a hard border between European Union member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland "remains a key priority for both negotiating teams and solidarity with our European Union partners remains strong". Brexit firebrand Nigel Farage said "Theresa the Appeaser" had "let people down again" by agreeing to European Union demands to keep free immigration during the transition.

He also welcomed wording that gives Britain some say in European Union policy during the transition, notably on fishing quotas, and an ability to refuse to implement things it did not agree with - some of his Conservative party allies have complained that the transition deal would leave Britain a "vassal state" of the EU.

"We are, however, concerned that not enough attention is being given now to the finer details and practical implications of transition. Until the appropriate technological solutions can be found, then the option of a regulatory backstop must be left on the table".

He said: "A decisive step remains a step, we are not at the end of the road and there is a lot of work still to be done on important subjects including Ireland and Northern Ireland".

On March 29 previous year, the British government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, beginning the process of UK's exit from the European bloc.

However, he described the agreements as a "decisive" moment for efforts to avoid Britain crashing out without a deal.

In what could be seen as a big win for the UK, the draft agreement confirms, "during the transition period, the United Kingdom may negotiate, sign and ratify global agreements... provided those agreements do not enter into force or apply during the transition period, unless so authorized by the Union".

"While some companies would have liked to see copper-bottomed legal guarantees around the transition, the political agreement reached in Brussels is sufficient for most businesses to plan ahead with a greater degree of confidence".


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