The British Retail Consortium and Northern Ireland Retail Consortium have met with the European Union’s Article 50 negotiation team to discuss the impact of a no-deal Brexit on retailers and consumers.
Issues addressed included non-tariff barriers, data flow, VAT and the shortage of heat-treated pallets, which are required for all wood packaging material used in international shipments.
The BRC/NIRC delegation also met with MEPs, including vice-president of the European Parliament Mairead McGuinness.
William Bain, policy advisor on European and international at the British Retail Consoritum (BRC), said: “It was important to set out the impact that a no-deal Brexit would have for both the UK and the European Union. Non-tariff barriers, including disruption and delays at Calais-Dover and the Northern Ireland border, would negatively impact both businesses and consumers in the UK, Ireland and on the continent.
“With only 23 days to go, the immense risks for consumers from a disastrous no-deal outcome are ever clearer. The EU must support retailers to mitigate the many supply-chain issues that could arise, and decision-makers in London must use their votes in Parliament to protect ordinary consumers from higher prices and reduced choice that would result in a no deal scenario.”
Aodhán Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC), said: “We have been clear with decision-makers in Westminster, Dublin and now Brussels that a no-deal Brexit brings tariffs, customs, checks, and costs that our industry cannot afford to absorb. This was a positive meeting and it is clear that the Article 50 team have concerns for business and communities in Ireland and across the UK, but the fact remains that hard Brexit means a hard border and the disintegration of supply chains that have been built up in 40 years of EU membership. The Northern Ireland economy is built on access to both the markets of the EU and Great Britain.
“No deal makes NI [Northern Ireland] a less competitive place to do business and a more expensive place to live. A no-deal Brexit will increase the price of shopping, from the Prime Minister’s constituency of Maidenhead to the cities of Belfast and Dublin.”