- The BRC notes the European Commission's announcement on proposed Brexit preparations and repeats its concerns that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, movement of goods between the UK and EU would be severely impacted, even if the UK kept its border open for goods.
- The EU exports £21 billion of goods to the UK and a third of the food consumed in the UK is imported from the EU. The UK's highly complex food supply chain - and the excellent value and choice it offers UK consumers - depends upon frictionless trade with the EU. The livelihoods of tens of thousands of farmers and food producers in the EU also depend on it.
- This supply chain is fragile. Failure to reach a Brexit deal - the cliff edge scenario - will mean new border controls and multiple "non-tariff barriers" through regulatory checks, creating delays, waste and failed deliveries.
- This could lead to dramatic consequences, with food rotting at ports, reducing choice and quality for UK consumers. It could also lead to higher prices as the cost of importing goods from the EU increases.
Richard Pennycook, Chairman of the British Retail Consortium said:
"We must avoid a cliff edge scenario on the 29 March 2019 at all costs. Failure to achieve a smooth transition will create a lose-lose scenario for UK consumers and EU producers. Our food supply chain is complex, highly organised and ultimately fragile. Even if the UK keeps its borders open, the EU application of regulation and tariffs at borders in relation to the UK would cause significant delays and will lead to food rotting in transit. Frictionless trade is essential if the industry is to continue to provide the level of choice and value in shops that UK consumers are used to seeing. It is now of the utmost importance that the UK Government gets the Withdrawal Agreement over the line and allows for a smooth transition. We also need the EU to be flexible and creative in negotiation and recognise what is at stake for exports to the UK. Time is running out."
Learn more about our Fair Brexit For Consumers campaign.