T he departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union, will impact the agriculture of all European horticultural companies and in particular the export of the Mediterranean Countries.You can hear several rumours about what will happen, some of these with a catastrophic perspective.

On the other hand, we need to don’t think that everything will remain the same. There will be changes and I will tell you the two scenarios that could occur and the three consequences from the point of view of the relationship between the  Food Safety and the fruit and vegetable market, especially with regard to maximum residue levels of the pesticides.

Hypothesis #1. Probably the trade relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union will follow the same course of the countries as Iceland and Norway: outside the Union, but with a foot within the European economic area.

Therefore, majorities of European laws and regulations will remain unchanged and the UK will continue to respect the same European standards like today.

The second hypothesis is that the United Kingdom will completely withdraw from the European market so that it can be supplied by other world markets, such as the United States, North Africa and developing countries.

Both scenarios are a bit extremes. It is true that the departure of the United Kingdom from the EU does not imply that the exports are terminated, but that they will be carried out under different conditions.

The most evident consequence is the fall in the price of the pound against the euro.

From a technical point of view we can speculate that one of the most important changes will be the relationship between EFSA, European Food Safety Authority, and the UK. EFSA’s main objective is to provide scientific methods for alerting and detecting all problems affecting food safety. EFSA, for example, establishes the residue limits of plant protection products. Currently in force is the Regulation 396/2005 on maximum residue levels of pesticides in or on food and feed of plant and animal origin.

Accordingly, in the interest of free movement of goods, equal competition conditions among the Member States, as well as a high level of consumer protection, it has been considered appropriate that maximum residue levels (MRLs) for products of plant and animal origin be set at Community level, taking into account good agricultural practice.

These maximum residue limits (MRLs), which are set by the European Commission, include:

Specific MRLs for certain foodstuffs intended for humans or animals and an overall limit applicable where no MRLs have been established (a ‘default limit’ of 0,01 mg / kg).


What will happen after Brexit?

Hypothesis # 1: Britain will continue to collaborate with the EU and EFSA on common food safety issues. This also involves collaboration from a financial point of view. In this case, nothing change. .

Hypothesis #2: The United Kingdom does not collaborate with Europe on this issue, using the proper Food Safety Agency (FSA). This is quite likely. Of course, there are things the British want to change: not surprisingly, there was a clear desire to move from Hazard-based regulation to a Risk-based approach, strongly science-based and proportionate, whilst maintaining or improving current human and environmental safety standards and taking account of socio-economic benefits.

Hypothesis #3. United Kingdom is homologated to the United States. The British wants to stop unnecessary expiry of authorisations and routine reviews and introduce a US EPA-style data ‘call in’ system. They  should simplify or remove efficacy requirements, and onerous assessments for minor uses and low risk products including bio-pesticides – and have an emergency approvals/essential uses system for unforeseen problems, that we do not have in Europe now.

What will happen on the subject of MRLs could also change the viewpoint of Europeans and bring the European Union closer to the American market

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