Impact of Brexit on NI ag sector highlighted with EU Commission
Sinn Féin MLA Declan McAleer has emphasised the ongoing need for direct dialogue between the EU institutions and local representatives.
There is a need for this, he believes, to navigate the post-Brexit agricultural world in Northern Ireland.
He was speaking after participating in a roundtable event in the EU Parliament where MLAs from the main parties engaged with MEPs, Ambassadors, the Northern Ireland Executive Office in Brussels and vice-president of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic.
“The Tory-imposed Brexit is having a hugely negative impact on farms, small businesses and wider society here in the north,” he said.
“I therefore welcomed the opportunity to engage directly with the EU commission and MEPs to highlight some of these issues.”
“There were frank and constructive exchanges between MEPs, MLAs and the Commission and I took the opportunity to highlight how the loss of the EU Rural Development Programme and the uncertainty over the future of the Single Farm Payment was having a negative impact on rural communities,” he said.
McAleer said that he also highlighted the impact of post-Brexit Home Office immigration rules. The MLA said they were having a “very damaging impact on the agrifood sector in accessing workers”.
“I also highlighted concerns that the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords, could undermine our access to the EU market,” he added.
“Given that the north has access to the EU single market, EU legislation and standards apply here across a range of areas, therefore it is important that elected representatives from the north and other sectoral interests are heard.”