Brexit: Continuation of FTAs for spirits during transition ‘confirmed’

2nd February, 2018 by Melita Kiely

A meeting between top Brexit negotiators and leading drinks industry trade bodies has confirmed the EU-27’s intention to “preserve the ‘full acquis’” for wine and spirits during the transition period of the UK leaving the European Union.

Brexit-meeting

L-R: Tom Sallis (SWA); Simon Stannard (WSTA); Ulrich Adam (Spirits Europe); Ignacio Sanchez Recarte (CEEV)

Representatives from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA), Spirits Europe, the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) and the Comité Européen des Entreprises Vins (CEEV) met with the EU Commission’s top Brexit negotiators in Brussels on Thursday (1 February).

Following discussions, Spirits Europe said the “positive and constructive dialogue” confirmed that the laws surrounding free trade agreements will remain in place during the transition period.

The meeting with Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier’s taskforce focused on reasons to keep the trade of wine and spirits flowing post-Brexit, until new agreements have been reached.

Industry groups have been calling for a ‘flexible’ transition period if needed once the UK leaves the EU, and emphasised the importance of maintaining free trade agreement deals to protect the wine and spirits industry.

Miles Beale, chief executive of the WSTA, said: “The WSTA has, from the outset, been calling for a transition period.

“Frankly, we need politicians to continue continuity for our industry, and not to indulge in politicking that risks delay or damage to our industry and its businesses – on whichever side of the Channel they reside.”

Karen Betts, chief executive of the SWA, welcomed the agreement, which will define the terms of transition to bridge the period from March 2019 until a new trading relationship is agreed.

Betts said: “It is vital for business continuity that there is only one change of rules at the end of the process.

“If transition is to be truly ‘status quo’, it must encompass the entire body of EU law, including the integrity of EU trade policy and international legal obligations, which includes the continuation of its FTAs and bilateral spirits agreements.”

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