Agriculture, Technology

EU Agriculture Chief Calls On UK To Stay In Customs Union

site de rencontre black totalement gratuit Brussels’ top Irish official Hogan fears threats to trade and N Ireland peace deal

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military scammers on dating sites Ireland’s EU commissioner has hit out at the UK’s “conflicting messages” over Brexit, saying London should consider staying in Europe’s customs union to reduce risks to trade and the Northern Irish peace deal. Phil Hogan, who is close to the Dublin government, spoke to the Financial Times before the publication of an article by two UK ministers that called for Britain to leave both the customs union and the EU’s single market on exiting the bloc in 2019. The ministers, Philip Hammond, chancellor of the exchequer, and Liam Fox, international trade secretary, also urged a “time limited interim period” to avoid a “cliff edge”. “I think that there’s a high level of delusion in London at the moment about what is required to be done,” Mr Hogan, EU agricultural commissioner, said, reflecting Brussels’ frustration at London’s approach to the talks. “But if there is an appetite for a pragmatic and reasonable outcome to a free-trade agreement, well then membership of the customs union would make a significant contribution to this.”

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here There is acute concern in Brussels and Dublin that a UK departure from the customs union would be incompatible with a “soft border” between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland that impedes neither the free flow of trade nor of people. The future of Northern Ireland is one of the top priorities of the first phase of Brexit talks, which the EU says have to make “sufficient progress” before the two sides can move on to discuss future relations and a possible trade deal. “I’m very concerned about the Irish question. Ireland is probably the biggest victim of this mess,” Mr Hogan said. The commissioner added that he had told Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the CBI, the employers’ organisation, that big UK companies should press the British government to stay in the customs union in the interests of the British economy. But in their joint article for the Sunday Telegraph, Mr Hammond, who backed Remain in last year’s referendum, and Mr Fox, a leading Brexit supporter, argued that leaving the customs union would allow Britain to strike bilateral deals with other countries and ruled out any transition that served as “a back door to staying in the EU”.

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The UK is expected to set out its position on the Northern Irish border and future customs arrangements with the EU in two formal position papers to be published by Wednesday, ahead of the next round of negotiations with the EU which start on the week beginning August 28. Despite their backing for withdrawal from the customs union, Mr Fox and Mr Hammond said that during the transition period “our borders must continue to operate smoothly . . . businesses must still be able to supply their customers across the EU”. In June, Mr Hammond said that current customs arrangements needed to remain in place after the UK leaves the bloc “until new long-term arrangements are up and running”. Mr Hogan said the UK chancellor had been a “lonely voice” in his drive to prioritise the UK economy.

”I’m very concerned about the Irish question. Ireland is probably the biggest victim of this mess.”

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He added that British ministers “still don’t realise that the other 27 [member states] have to agree to this transition period of two or three years or whatever they’re going to be seeking. We have to see will it be fruitful.” He dismissed Mr Fox’s claims that there was “no issue” with importing chlorine-washed chicken as part of a UK-US trade deal — one of the bilateral accords most eagerly anticipated by Brexiters — and pointed out that Michael Gove, environment secretary, had ruled out such imports. Chlorine-washed chicken is banned in the EU. The commissioner said any moves to open the UK market to genetically modified food or hormone beef, also banned in the EU but permitted in the US, would shut out UK food from the European market. The benefit Britain drew from open trade with Europe was not recognised, Mr Hogan argued. “Barrier-free trade in goods and services with the EU has worked more than any number of hypothetical trade agreements that Mr Fox talks about around the world. The agricultural commissioner rejected the idea of a Brexit deal in which Northern Ireland remained in the customs union or internal market while the rest the UK left, saying that would not be acceptable to the Democratic Unionist party, the Northern Irish party now propping up Theresa May’s government after the prime minister lost her parliamentary majority in the June election. Asked whether Mrs May’s government was sufficiently seized of Ireland’s concerns, he said it was not. “Based on their pronouncements about leaving the single market and the customs union they are clearly setting their face against practical policy proposals that will help to achieve a soft Brexit,” Mr Hogan said. “They’re talking about being a soft Brexit but they’re acting in the negotiations [in a way that] can only lead to a hard Brexit.”

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