News: EU


Total milk and cream sales to the EU have slumped 96% in the year to February 2021, and cheese exports were down 65% as a result of Brexit-related trade barriers, according to the Food and Drink Federation. The FDF also found new trading arrangements with Europe had cost exporters more than £1.1bn since January. Figures published by the AHDB, based on HMRC data, showed that 131t of milk and 436t of bulk cream were exported to Europe in February, down from 76,500t of milk and 901t of cream a year earlier. Buttermilk and yogurt exports were down 91% from Feb 2020, butter exports down 89%, milk powder down 86%, whey down 83%t and cheese down 75%.  Extra paperwork, veterinary certification costs and delays are blamed.


The European Commission launched legal proceedings against London on March 15 for what is describes as a “deliberate” breach of international law over its unilateral decision to extend the Brexit grace period for food imports to Northern Ireland. If the issue is not resolved, the European Court of Justice may decide to introduce sanctions in the form of a daily fine. The announcement follows a decision by the UK government in early March to extend the grace period for post-Brexit agri-food movements (products of animal origin, composite products, plants etc) from the rest of the UK, transiting to Northern Ireland without official EU certification, until Oct 1. NI business groups had been pressing for an extension of the soft-touch regulatory regime on some goods—originally due to expire at the end of March—ahead of additional red tape requirements such as supermarkets producing export health certificates for all shipments of animal products under the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol. [AGRAFACTS]