For 40 years decisions taken in Brussels have had a decisive impact on the organisation and economy of UK agriculture. From the moment the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973, this has become increasingly clear.
As a result, about 25 years ago, the old Meat and Livestock Commission (now EBLEX and BPEX) made the decision to open an office in Brussels, to closely follow the definition and implementation of new EU agricultural policies.
The aim? From the very beginning, the Brussels office has ensured that the relevant sectors are well informed on issues and developments which have an impact on their operating environment. Equally important has been its role in times of crisis, such as BSE and FMD, when the office provided a precious link of information and communication between the EU institutions and the industry.
Over the years, with the EU becoming more and more focused on consumer orientated legislation and environmental policies, the office has also increased its level of engagement in animal welfare, sanitary and sustainability issues.
The Brussels team’s role has evolved to also contribute to an informed debate on cross-sector matters, such as EU research, agricultural promotion and CAP reform. This move reflects not only the wider role of
AHDB but also the increasing trend towards a horizontal approach in EU policy and legislation.
On a daily basis, the small (but very efficient!) team monitors information on a wide range of EU topics, ranging from EU consumers’ opinions on meat, to updates on ongoing free-trade agreement negotiations, origin labelling, TSE roadmap, emerging new diseases or animal health packages. It follows various EU meetings such as EP, COMAGRI and COMENVI meetings, Agriculture and Environment Councils and also attends various conferences and workshops on specific issues such as trade and animal welfare.
The team holds formal and informal meetings with EU decision makers. This information is then analysed and communicated to EBLEX through different ways - briefing notes on EU regulations, daily and monthly report reports, EU news section on EBLEX website and social media platforms.
Our expertise in Brussels means we can reliably help to inform the EU debate, particularly by highlighting the potential impact of changes in policy and technical legislation on the sectors we represent. As such, the Brussels office provides EBLEX with an effective network of top European civil servants but also key EU food and farming organisations, as well as Brussels-based print and broadcast media.
Ultimately, by optimising the flow of communication to and from the EU, the Brussels office is supporting beef and lamb producers to better anticipate future policy trends and regulatory changes and thus more smoothly adapt to the new challenges faced by EU agriculture. It is an important role and one which we will continue to develop to ensure our producers are kept fully informed about key industry issues as new challenges arise.
Kathy RousselHead of Brussels Office