The EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan (and ex Irish Environment minister) went ahead with his pre referendum invitation to the Kent County Show last Friday. Thus his visit marked the first public engagement between the EU Commission and the British public. His speech although careful did provide some clarification after recent events and addressed some of the uncertainties of the rural and farming communities.
Hogan’s speech reiterated the calls by the President of the EU Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, for the UK to clarify its position after the Brexit referendum as soon as possible in order to minimise the uncertainty. He also underlined that he was optimistic the UK and EU can begin a new relationship “we are neighbours after all”. “We respect but regret your decision”. No negotiations will take place until the UK invokes Article 50, and until those negotiations are completed we’ll stay as a full member so all of the EU agricultural regulations will still need to be met, but our farmers will also continue to benefit from Common Agricultural Policy support schemes and the internal market for agricultural products. “As long as you keep paying in, we will keep paying out,” stated Hogan. During the Q&A session Phil Hogan was asked to confirm when we can start trade talks. Exit negotiations must be agreed first before trade agreements can be made.
Picture of EU Agriculture Commissioner on NFU stand at Kent County Show