The UK government’s promised renegotiation of the country’s “relationship” and “terms of membership” with the EU is an opportunity to highlight a number of elements which, if addressed, will enhance the operating environment of UK farmers.
That’s one of the key points included in a newly published National Farmers Union (NFU) report, designed to help its members consider the farming industry’s current relationship with the EU, ahead of the promised UK membership referendum.
While making it clear that the report takes neither a “better in” nor “better out” position, the union says it hopes the new document will provide members with fresh “insights and answers” on the membership debate.
While offering a wide ranging assessment of UK/EU membership issues, the report lists several key concerns, including a sharp comment on renegotiation and how this may impact on Europe’s diverse pig industry.
“Ahead of the referendum the UK government is seeking to renegotiate its relationship and the terms of membership with the EU,” the report states, adding that, as yet, the government has not formally published a position on what it is seeking to change as regards the UK’s relationship with the EU.
“The NFU, however, views the UK’s renegotiation with the EU as an opportunity to highlight a number of elements that, if addressed, we believe will enhance the operating environment of UK farmers. Our position is based on the guiding principles of commonality, simplification, greater competitiveness and increased market orientation.”
The report then lists three potential renegotiation case studies, the first of which deals with the implementation and enforcement of EU animal welfare legislation.
“EU enlargement has resulted in a more diverse EU,” it says. “Animal health and welfare do not carry the same priority weighting across the European membership. This is reflected in the reluctance of some countries to comply with European legislation relating to animal health and welfare.
“One such example is the sow stall ban, implemented across Europe from 2013 and in the UK since 1999. We believe the Commission should ensure robust sanctions against non-complying member states and that there should be a moratorium on all new EU and domestic welfare legislation until there is adequate enforcement of the existing regulations throughout the EU.”