Last Friday the Ulster Farmers’ Union hosted a meeting of the leaders of the four UK farming unions in Newcastle, Co Down. Discussions at the meeting were dominated by Brexit following the agreement earlier in the week between the UK and the EU on a framework for a future relationship.
The leaders of the EU27 have endorsed additional guidelines on future partnership talks with the UK. Trade talks will now begin in parallel to the discussions on the UK’s withdrawal and transition phase. However, the caveat that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ still applies, and EU leaders will assess whether an adequate solution for the border between Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland has been made when they meet at the June EU Summit.
The EU will work towards a ‘balanced, ambitious and wide-ranging free trade agreement’ (FTA) to include trade in goods, customs cooperation, minimising technical barriers to trade including sanitary and phytosanitary measures, a limited services trade chapter, and agreements on geographical indications and public procurement.
Along with the Irish border, the governance of the EU-UK future relationship is alsoan area of contention.
The EU will continue preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario with just 12 months to go until the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.