The Withdrawal Agreement, as approved by the European Council and agreed with the British Government in November, provides for a period of transition, up to December 2020, during which EU rules and regulations will continue to apply to the UK, including regulatory alignment on agriculture matters.
Under the measures included in the backstop, should it need to be invoked, a UK-wide customs territory would apply, ensuring no tariffs or quotas. Rules with regard to ensuring a level playing field would also apply. Northern Ireland would remain aligned to those rules of the Single Market that are indispensable to avoiding a hard border. As regards the movement of animals and agricultural products between North and South, this would provide for complete regulatory alignment, including with respect to sanitary and pyhtosanitary (SPS) controls, and rules on agricultural production and marketing.
It remains our priority to achieve a future relationship agreement that can resolve all these issues, and obviate the need for the backstop.
As set out in the Political Declaration agreed between the EU and the UK, cooperation in the area of agriculture and trade in agri-food products have been identified as important aspects of the future trading relationship. Ireland wants the closest possible relationship between the EU and the UK, including in the area of trade, and in particular as regards agriculture and trade in agri-foods. This will be a priority for us in negotiations on the future relationship.