The 'Single Market' is more than a free trading area - where you can trade without tariff (tax) barriers. It sets standards for all products, including food. The Single, Internal or Common Market seeks to guarantee the free movement of goods, capital, services, and labour – the "four freedoms". It is like a table top, where we have our meal delivered and we can move the food, water, wine, condiments, cutlery, around the table without any barriers, and knowing the quality of each is to agreed standards, so we can feel safe in eating and drinking.
The Single Market ensures that the same standards apply across the EU. For food this means ensuring standards of safety and for the environment. These are higher than anywhere else in the world. Much of the muttering about 'Brussels' bureaucrats is to do with these standards - e.g the straight banana - a classic euromyth. Complete list of EU myths relating with food and farming.
Part of the reason for the success of this Single Market in relation to food and farming is that it enables those willing to take the chance of investing in these higher standards - by rewarding them with special access to the single biggest market (460m) in the world. Others outside the EU are kept out by these same standards.
Thus while the Customs Union set tariff barriers between the EU and the rest of world, the Single Market sets up non-tariff barriers. In some cases these (non money) can be bigger barriers to trade than the tariff (money) ones
Non-Tariiff BarriersThe US complains that the EU standards block their food exports. Trump claims unfair trade system where "the one area where Mr Trump had “a bit of a point” was in non-tariff barriers." The Single Market sets up 'non-tariff' barriers with the outside world. These are health and environmental standards, called in WTO jargon 'phytosanitary' standards. These are only legitimate under WTO rules if we maintain the same standards for ourselves - which of course we in the EU do.
The Single Market is also a nifty way of dealing with the big problem of EU farm policy for the last 50 years - overproduction; remember the butter mountains and paying farmers to not grow food. By setting higher standards, this limits the numbers gaining access to the market, thus keep farm-gate prices higher than if anybody could pile in. Because we can only eat (and waste) only so much food, prices would plummet if anybody could produce any old food thereby saturating the market. So the market is 'rigged'. But those who still believe in the madness of food markets can still call it a market. No wonder Mrs Thatcher was a keen promoter.
If Britain was on its own, many farmers would not bother as the market is not big enough (50 m) to guarantee return on their investment Especially if they were up against farmers and food producers who are being subsidised in the EU. We would also be facing competition from farm-stuffs coming from outside the EU produced without these same standards. That is before we go off 'doing free trade deals' which will make matters worse. All the possible partners in free trade agreements (eg US, New Zeal and Argentina) want us to reduce our tariff and non-tariffs barriers to imported their foodstuffs
There is no way we can keep our high environmental, welfare and safety standards OUTSIDE the Single Market. They only make economic sense INSIDE the EU Single Market.
Some of the new rules will come into effect from exit day. For others, you’ll have longer to update your food labels. These proposals are subject to agreement with devolved administrations and Parliamentary process.
Animal WelfareMPs reject 'animal sentience' in EU (Withdrawl) Bill. Under EU law, animals are recognised as beings which feel pain and emotions. 80% of current animal welfare legislation comes from the EU. While most EU law relating to animals will be automatically brought over into UK law, this may not apply to the recognition of sentience. The British Vets Association said "this action undermines the Government’s previous promises that the UK will continue to be known for our high standards of animal health and welfare post-Brexit." HOWEVER!!! Environment Minister Gove says government will retain 'sentience' - that rejection of New Clause 30 was because it was faulty - not to do with sentience. He has introduced the Animal Welfare Bill and could back Teresa Villiers who wants parliamentary debate to stop export of live sheep and cattle following Brexit- that EU insists on as a part of 'free movement'. Latest on 'Sentience' bill Feb 18. Labour Party have 'Plan for Animal Welfare', which would be best achieved by staying in the EU, but they do not want to say that. Tell you MP we don't want to drop food standards
Geographic Indications (GIs)GIs protect specialised foods like Melton Mowbray pies, stopping others copying them. Brussels has managed to negotiate the recognition of a number of GIs in the framework of the CETA trade treaty with Canada, and is taking the same path in negotiations with South American trading block Mercosur. So hopefully the EU will recognise our GIs..
Geographic Indications (GIs)
Sanitary Measures Rise in Veterinary Certifications. BVA say "new trade agreements for meat and agricultural products like milk, gelatine and hay could trigger a significant increase in the number of veterinary certifications needed, requiring many more vets to perform this role."
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), a reference organisation of the World Trade Organization (WTO), has recognised veterinary services and certification as “fundamental” for food safety. (Full report to EFRA). if the UK is treated as a'third' country, it will have to provide evidence of proper safety procedures when dealing with the EU. (However - despite people saying 'we will play by WTO rules', we are not yet in the WTO. We have to join - as a new member.)
Once out of the EU we will be automatically classed as a 'third country', so under EU "food law ", exports from here to the EU of any "food of animal origin" will be "prohibited unless certain requirements are met". To combat the potential shortage in veterinary capacity, BVA is also calling on the Government to guarantee working rights for non-British EU vets and veterinary nurses currently working and studying in the UK. This is because we have run down our veterinary training provisions in this country, so only 70% UK trained, down from 78% in 2010. While hard to define, 'veterinary research' has declined over 5% since the millennium according to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.
The UK has been responsible/strong hand in many of the EU standards for harmonisation of food and farming. Perhaps most famous is the Habitats Directive 2006 that stops developers from building on land with certain protected species - like great crested newts. The prime UK mover in that Directive was Stanley Johnson - Boris Johnson's dad., although the UK government in 2015 didn't seem too bothered about weakening its remit. How UK & EU standards influenced each other
See Standards for more