Brexit

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IFST has set out its challenges for Brexit (see http://www.ifst.org/news/ifsts-brexit-challenges), on maintaining access to skills, research funding and collaboration to ensure a competitive and innovative food system. Specifically, we have called for:

  • A fit-for purpose legislative framework.
  • Research funding of an appropriate level to drive scientific discovery and innovation
  • Government, academia and industry UK food system have access to appropriate skills in food science and technology
  • Supply of sufficient safe, affordable, nutritious and sustainable food

Some news to date has been positive – researchers have been guaranteed research funding for successful bids, e.g. under Horizon 2020, beyond the date of departure from the EU. However, longer term involvement terms for EU research participation is uncertain, as is the access to skills and people required for the science and innovation needs of researchers and the food industry, and what the future legislative environment will consist of post-Brexit.

What the main party manifestos say about it

Conservatives:

The manifesto states that the party will:

  • Control immigration and secure the entitlements of EU nationals in Britain…
  • Pursue free trade with European markets, and secure new trade agreements with other countries.
  • …collaborate in science and innovation – and secure a smooth, orderly Brexit.
  • Enact a Great Repeal Bill..(to) convert EU law into UK law…
  • Create the necessary powers to correct the laws that do not operate appropriately once we have left the EU.
  • Ensure…we meet the current OECD average for investment in R&D – that is, 2.4 per cent of GDP – within ten years, with a longer-term goal of three per cent.
  • Increase the number of scientists working in the UK and enable leading scientists from around the world to work here
  • …set aside significant numbers of visas for workers in strategically-important sectors, such as digital technology, without adding to net migration as a whole

Labour:

The manifesto states that the party will:

  • …guarantee existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain
  • Ensure that the UK maintains our leading research role by seeking to stay part of Horizon 2020 and its successor programmes and by welcoming research staff to the UK
  • (Secure) continued EU market access allowing British farmers and food producers to continue to sell their products on the Continent.
  • (Ensure) Britain continues to set the highest standards in food quality and welfare.
  • …Make sure that all EU-derived laws that are of benefit….fully protected
  • Create an innovation nation with the highest proportion of high-skilled jobs in the OECD (and) meet the OECD target of 3 per cent of GDP spent on research and development by 2030.

Liberal Democrats:

The manifesto states that the party will:

  • Fight to prevent a hard Brexit
  • Press for the UK to unilaterally guarantee the rights of EU nationals in the UK
  • Continue (trade) without customs controls at the border, and…maintain membership of the single market
  • Protect the right to work, travel, study and retire across the EU…Any restrictions…must take account of the vital importance of EU workers to the British economy
  • Campaign against any reduction in investment in UK universities and for their right to apply for EU funds on equal terms.

What IFST is doing about it

IFST is co-organising (with nutrition organisations, British Nutrition Foundation, Nutrition Society, and British Dietetics Association) a Brexit summit, due to be held in early November, to explore the likely impact of Brexit on UK food regulations and the regulatory environment. While this event is invite only, we will produce a joint report for publication after the event.

The Eastern Branch of IFST is hosting a public meeting on Brexit in September/October, which will open to attendance by all (further details to follow). Output from this meeting will be taken to the November summit to assist in discussions and decisions at that event.