Britain’s agriculture commissioner, Phil Hogan, said he remains hopeful that common sense might prevail in relation Brexit, but that he had no answers to the question of the Irish border.
“Despite the madness of Brexit, I still think common sense might prevail,” said Hogan while Briefing journalists on the European Commission’s Agriculture and Food contingency measures preparedness.
Hogan stressed that “a no deal makes no sense,” when asked by journalists how things will evolve ahead go Wednesday’s Brexit Summit in Brussels. A no-deal outcome was “simply crazy”, according to Hogan, who added that there was too much at stake for both the UK and the EU.
When speaking about agriculture products that will cross the Irish border under a no-deal, Hogan reiterated that the EU executive expects London to define the measures the EU is going to take, adding that the Commission was preparing for all scenarios.
“If there is a customs union and a regulatory alignment between the EU and UK then, of course, we will have business as usual,” he said, after being asked what farmers will have to do if they continue to have ongoing businesses across the border. “If there is a no deal, we see our responsibilities under the Good Friday Agreement to prevent a hard border on the Ireland of Ireland.”
“We see the various statements arising from meetings between the Taoiseach (Leo Varadkar), President (Emmanuel) Macron and Chancellor (Angela) Merkel last week and they seem to be assured that there will be a plan produced that will meet the logistical and practical difficulties and also one that is able to do so in the context of not having hard border infrastructure on the Island of Ireland,” added Hogan that has committed to farmers last week that there will be no cut to direct payments when Brexit happens.
State aid rules are being looked at, in addition to a package of support programmes for farmers and food producers, according to Hogan, who also said Ireland is due to receive a €500 million package in EU farm subsidies in case of a no-deal Brexit.
“Regrettably, the EU has a lot of experience in agriculture of dealing with a market disturbance,” added Hogan. “We have been preparing for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit,