Knowledge for better food systems

Food, Brexit and Northern Ireland: Critical issues

This report from the Food Research Collaboration, by Gary McFarlane, Tony Lewis and Tim Lang, argues that the Brexit negotiations have neglected the importance of the transport of food into, out of and through Northern Ireland.

The report points out that, if the UK leaves the European single market and customs union, border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland may be necessary, which could create costs for food businesses and slow down deliveries. The report notes that the single market has made it easier for people in Northern Ireland to access some healthy foods, such as fruit and vegetables.

Recommendations include:

  • Policymakers should explicitly acknowledge the importance of food flows for the people of Northern Ireland and aim to produce a workable solution to the practical problems of cross-border food traffic
  • Members of parliament should pressurise the UK Government to keep Northern Ireland’s borders with both the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain open and frictionless
  • The three dominant food retail companies in Northern Ireland should make efforts to protect food flows into Northern Ireland

Find the full report here. See also the Foodsource resource An overview of food system challenges.

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Europe is the world's second-smallest continent by surface area, covering just over 10 million square kilometres or 6.8% of the global land area, but it is the third-most populous continent after Asia and Africa, with a population of around 740 million people or about 11% of the world's population. Its climate is heavily affected by warm Atlantic currents that temper winters and summers on much of the continent. In the European Union, farmers represent only 4.7% of the working population, yet manage nearly half of its land area.

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