In this month’s regular column from CEJA (European Council of Young Farmers) President Jannes Maes discusses the CEJA seminar and working group on Brexit which took place at the UK’s Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire in early March.
MF: Why was it important to organise a seminar about Brexit at this time?
JM: Currently, there are a lot of discussions being held on Brexit at the political level. Organising a CEJA seminar and working group, in partnership with the UK’s National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC) and the National Farmers’ Union’s Next Generation Forum, on Brexit at this time was a way for us to make sure the negotiating parties take the concerns of young farmers into account. It was also a means for our members to vocalise their thoughts on the situation to each other and at a political level.
MF: How do you think Brexit will affect you and the other young farmers in your Member State and the EU more broadly?
JM: Two of the major areas that Brexit will affect both in my Member State (Belgium) and at EU-level, in my opinion, are the financial situation due to the UK no longer contributing to the EU budget as a result of Brexit, and therefore to the funds available through the Common Agricultural Policy. And secondly, the trade and potential trade deficits that may arise because of Brexit. The UK is a big importer of EU agricultural products. If there is no swift instalment of a new trade or partnership agreement post-Brexit, this will lead to a lot of instability for young farmers at a time when we are advocating the opposite.
MF: What were the main outcomes of the seminar and working group?
JM: One of the main outcomes was that CEJA believes the EU still has a significant role to play in the lives of European young farmers. Another outcome was that in the interest of stability, we would propose that the trade and regulatory situations between the EU and the UK remain as similar in a post-Brexit framework as they are today. Young farmers on both sides also still see the value in being connected at an international level.
MF: What are the other policy issues that CEJA will deal with in 2018?
JM: In 2018, CEJA will examine the future CAP and EU budget more closely. Issues related to the functioning of the food chain are also on the agenda, as well as developments in international trade relations. The organisation will be celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and we are planning a big celebration that will take place on 4 December in Ypres, so stay tuned for more on that!
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