Knowledge for better food systems

Food, no-deal and the Irish border

This briefing paper from the UK’s Food Research Collaboration examines the impact that a “no-deal Brexit” (i.e. the UK leaving the European Union without an agreement on trade or other matters) would have on food supply chains that cross the border between Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (ROI).

The paper finds that ROI would most likely be obliged as a member of the European Union to apply border controls to food entering ROI from the UK, possibly including tariffs, inspections and document checks. 

According to the paper, current food supply chains often involve foods crossing the border multiple times at different stages of production. Food and live animals currently account for 32% of goods exported from the UK to ROI and 40% of goods exported from ROI to the UK. The report estimates that there are not enough qualified professionals to perform border checks on the current volume of food traded by 31 October 2019, the date by which, at the time of writing, the UK plans to leave the European Union.

The report’s recommendations to the UK government and members of parliament include: avoid a no-deal Brexit; publish planning assumptions for food supply chains in NI and ROI; ensure that NI has effective governance in place by 31 October 2019 (at the time of writing, the Northern Ireland Assembly has been suspended since 2017); prepare a fund to protect low-income households in NI from food price rises; and help food businesses to prepare for the increased complexities of border regulations.

Read the full report, Food, no-deal and the Irish border, here. See also the Foodsource resource What is food security? 

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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