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Parliamentary questions
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15 January 2020
Answer given by Mr Wojciechowski
on behalf of the European Commission
Question reference: E-003219/2019

The agri-food trade relationship between 27 European Union (EU) Member States and the United Kingdom (UK) is economically important. After its withdrawal, the UK would become the EU’s most significant agri-food trading partner. The importance of the overall trade relationship is recognised by both parties and reflected in the Political Declaration in which the EU and the UK set out their intentions to develop an ambitious trading relationship on goods, based on a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This FTA should ensure no tariffs, fees or charges across all sectors but with accompanying rules of origin and safeguards, to be applicable following the transition period established in the Withdrawal Agreement.

Should, however, the UK withdraw from the EU without the Withdrawal Agreement having been ratified, tariffs will be applicable on trade between the EU and the UK, which will be governed by World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules. The Commission is aware of the potential implications of such a scenario and is prepared to activate, within available financial resources, tools available under the common agricultural policy (CAP), such as market disturbance measures or support for promotion programmes, in order to help affected agricultural producers.

In addition, the Commission proposals for the CAP post-2020 — currently under scrutiny by the European Parliament and the Council — continue to offer support for farm income via direct payments, risk management and a safety net in case of market crisis. Those proposals require Member States to provide for risk management tools under rural development, such as for example an Income Stabilisation Tool, which could compensate farmers in case of an income drop. Furthermore, Member States will also benefit under their national CAP strategic plans from an enhanced flexibility to make interventions, which would better target the needs of their farmers.

With respect to the United States (US) trade disputes, the Commission is of the opinion that an appropriate application of the WTO rules is extremely important, in particular nowadays when the US targets EU agricultural exports, also in the context of disputes, which are unrelated to the agriculture sector. As a result, the Commission has been working with the US to address those problematic issues, including on common objectives for the reform and modernisation of the WTO.

Last updated: 15 January 2020Legal notice