The impact of Brexit on the processed food and drink sector Contents

8Research and Development

73.The UK hosts world-class food and drink R&D institutions, some of which employ a lot of EU nationals and use EU R&D facilities and expertise. Stakeholders said it was imperative that they keep access to EU labour and facilities.154

74.Food and drink R&D in the UK relies on a mix of EU funding and UK funding, both public and private. Those stakeholders that participated in EU-wide projects said they wished to continue to have access to these projects and the associated funding. Failing that, they wanted Government to match this funding.155 The Government has committed to do so for all funding awarded before we exit the European Union and stressed that a lot of R&D into food and drink had been undertaken without EU funding.156

75.We welcome the assurances in the Draft Withdrawal Agreement that the UK would be able to remain a member of EU agencies during the transition period, albeit with no participation in decision-making which is a very significant limitation.157 There is still uncertainty regarding the future interactions of the Food Safety Agency with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the participation of the UK in the EFSA after the transition.158 Stakeholders were unsure whether R&D projects currently being submitted for approval to the UK Food Safety Agency would continue beyond March 2019.159 They asked that the UK remain a member of the EFSA after the transition in order to be able to influence its decisions.160 Unlike some other EU agencies, the founding statute of the EFSA does allow for participation of third countries - but where they have adopted and apply EU rules. There are also cooperation agreements e.g. with Australia, Canada, Japan, NZ, US which might serve as a model, but they explicitly do not create binding legal obligations.161

76.We welcome the Government’s commitment to match funding for all EU-funded R&D projects awarded before we leave the EU. The Government should now clarify the level of access to EU nationals and EU facilities that will be available to the food and drink R&D sector after the transition.

77.We welcome the Prime Minister’s aim to retain some form of membership with some EU agencies. We would welcome clarity on the type of associated membership that the EU would allow for the UK in the European Food Safety Authority and its future interactions with the Food Safety Agency.

78.The Government should seek to maintain UK’s membership of collaborative EU R&D projects, while clarifying approval processes and the role of the Food Safety Agency beyond March 2019.

154 Unilever BRF0019, para 2&6; Wine and Spirit Trade Association BRF0011, para 5.1–5.4; Confederation of Paper Industries BRF0002

155 Unilever BRF0019, para 9; Council for Responsible Nutrition UK BRF0016, para 22–24; Rich Energy BRF0013; Wine and Spirit Trade Association BRF0011, para 5.1–5.4

158 PAGB BRF0006, para 5.1

159 Unilever BRF0019, para 23

160 PAGB BRF0006, para 5.1

161 House of Commons Library, EU Agencies and Post-Brexit Options, CBP7957

Published: 22 April 2018