The licence for glyphosate in the EU does not expire until December 2022, but the future of the product is under increasing threat as a result of political decisions.
The French government has said it plans an early ban on the product and other agrochemicals. This is a personal initiative by its president, Emmanuel Macron. Now Germany has gone a step further, announcing legislation to ban glyphosate completely from late 2023. Austria has already imposed a ban.
The German decision is a big victory for environmentalists, who have maintained a campaign against the government since it backed the renewal of the EU product licence in 2012. After Brexit the UK will have to decide whether it wants to follow EU legislation and licensing or go it alone in an approach more closely aligned with the United States.
The European Commission will, controversially for farm lobby groups, agree duties on fertiliser imports to maintain European price levels.
This has been criticised for a long time on grounds that multinational fertiliser companies do not need protection and that farmers should benefit from the advantage of lower prices.
Duties are set to be agreed next week on imports of urea and ammonium nitrate from Russia, the United States, and Trinidad and Tobago. The imposition of these anti-dumping duties was requested by the fertiliser industry’s organisation, Fertiliser Europe, and the duties are expected to remain in place for five years.
This is another issue where the UK will have to decide after Brexit between free trade, which it advocates, and protection for manufacturers.
The European Commission has confirmed that last year the EU retained its position as the world’s biggest exporter of agrifood products. This confirms that in the event of a no-deal Brexit the EU-27 will be a huge and potentially aggressive competitor for the UK in overseas markets.
Food and agriculture exports topped £123 billion. This accounted for 7% of total EU exports, and food was fourth in importance after machinery, manufactured goods and chemicals. Agriculture and the food related industries and services together provide almost 44 million jobs in the EU. Food production and processing account for 7.5% of employment and 3.7% of total value added.
Meanwhile the Commission has confirmed that school schemes for milk, fruit and vegetables will receive more than £240m in 2019-20.
This includes £4m to the UK for school milk.