IN response to a UK Government white paper on internal markets, the FUW has stressed the importance of protecting Welsh farmers against u nfair competition from other parts of the UK and cou ntries across the globe, and that Welsh devolu tionmu st be respected.
Inhis introdu ctionto the UK Internal Market White Paper, Alok Sharma MP, Secretary of State for Bu siness, Energy and Indu strial Strategy, highlights how increasing d ifferences betweenru les and stand ard s applied by different Governments inthe UK’s fou r nations after Brexit cou ld cau se market d istortion, d iscriminationand u nfair competitionfor bu sinesses ina way not seenfor h u nd r e d s o f y e a r s .
The White Paper therefore proposes measu res to prevent su ch impacts based onthe principles of ‘non‐ d iscrimination’ and ‘mu tu al recognition’
FUW Head of Policy, Dr Nick Fenwick, (pictured rig ht), said : “We are glad th e UK Government h as wokenu p to the need to take this issu e seriou sly as it has previou sly beenkicked into the long grass becau se it is so politically contentiou s.”
Dr Fenwick said that the FUW had beenhighlighting the need to ad d ress this issu e since the EU Referend u m in2016, and inJu ly 2018 the FUW had pu blished a detailed paper considering the matter entitled ‘Filling the Void ‐ Steps towards a post‐Brexit UK policy framework’.
“While we welcome the UK Government’s recognition of this issu e, we are extremely concerned at the
su ggestionthat ru les cou ld simply be dictated by London, rather thanthere being a means by which to reach agreement betweenUK Governments.”
Dr Fenwick said su ch a move cou ld u nd ermine
d evolu tionand work to th e d isad vantage of Welsh farmers.
“The considerationof su ch matters ina White Paper with inmonth s of th e end of th e With d rawal Agreement period gives u s very little time to hold proper detailed discu ssions and introdu ce the type of stru ctu res and bod ies we tru ly need to make recommend ations, enforce regu lations, arbitrate onmatters etc. ina way that is fair.
“It also gives u s very little time to sort ou t what are hu ge constitu tional issu es which also happento be
cru cial to the ru nning of Welsh bu sinesses,” he added.
Inresponse to the White Paper, the Unionfu rther stressed that while the UK Government is right to recognise the dangers of direct and indirect
d iscrimination, u nfair competition, market d istortion
and oth er issu es th at cou
internal market, it sh ou ld
issu e exists across international bord ers.
ld arise with inth e GB/UK also recognise th at th e same
“Giventhe cu rrent trade negotiations with the EU and USA, for example, th e UK Government sh ou ld also recognise th e likelih ood of su ch ad verse impacts
occu rring as a resu lt of inappropriate or ill‐consid ered trade deals which expose u s to different standards or
u nfair competition,” said Dr Fenwick.
“This is a particu lar concernwith regard to agricu ltu ral
prod u ce prod u ced to environmental, h ealth and welfare, social and oth er stand ard s th at d o not meet those requ ired of UK produ cers, and su bsidy and
su pport regimes th at d iffer significantly to th ose introd u ced infu tu re inth e UK’s fou r nations.”
At present, while significant differences betweenthe UK and th e EU is allowed u nd er Single Market, Common Agricu ltu ral Policy and related ru les, th ese are with in strict bou nd aries aimed at minimising market d istortion and u nfair competitionwhile recognising regional and national need s.
If a trade deal with the EU is reached, there is potential for market d istortionand u nfair competition for UK produ cers as a resu lt of the fact that the EU will continu e to pay farmers d irect su pport, bu t Wales and England want to move over to environmental ‘pu blic goods’ style payments ‐ with many lobbying for farm payments to be cu t altogether.
“The EU’s reaffirmed commitment to maintaining
d irect su pport for active farmers th rou gh CAP payments, cou pled with a move inWales and other parts of the UK to get rid of d irect farm su pport infavou r of environmental payments, wou ld clearly introd u ce th e kind of u nfair competitionthe UK Government refers to inth is paper.
“This danger is no different inprinciple to the dangers recognised inth e Internal Markets Wh ite Paper, so also shou ld be recognised by ou r Governments ‐ not only in th e context of u nfair competitionfrom th e EU, ou r most important trad ing partner interms of food , bu t also
cou ntries like the USA if we are to strike a deal with th em.
“We need a trade deal with the EU to avoid massive damage to farms and other bu sinesses, bu t we also need ou r governments to recognise the self inflicted damage that cou ld be done by radically changing ou r ownfarm su pport systems while ou r maincompetitors twenty or th irty miles away over th e sea continu e with directfarmsupport,”headded.