UK and EU agree to minimise trade friction

The Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) has been involved in various meetings with the co-chairs of the United Kingdom (UK)/European Union (EU) Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee, and the EU’s special advisor on the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement to discuss the Northern Ireland (NI) Protocol.

UFU president Victor Chestnutt said: “At these NI Business Group and COPA meetings we outlined the various disruptive issues that our farmers and the wider NI agri-food industry have been experiencing since the start of the year. We stressed that if these difficulties were not resolved with urgency it will continue to have a huge detrimental impact on NI’s farming industry.

“We reiterated that on 1 January 2021 the whole of the UK was uniquely aligned with EU rules and it is most likely that the UK and the EU will continue to remain closely aligned on agri-food going forward. It’s essential that this is recognised by both the EU and the UK until one chooses to differ on specific regulations. Only at this point should additional physical checks or documentary arrangements be introduced. This acknowledgment would help to ease the current trade disruption.”

It was outlined at the meetings that the key principles that need to be delivered for NI to alleviate the difficulties that have been ongoing since the NI Protocol came in to affect are stability, certainty, simplification, and affordability.

“We stressed the importance of the delivery of these key principles which would significantly help minimise trade friction between GB and NI. Taking this on board, the EU and UK have agreed to use their best endeavours to address these principles with particular emphasis on facilitations to minimise trade friction from GB to NI while also protecting the European single market.”