MEP speaks to plant-health conference

West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre delivered the keynote speech yesterday (Weds) at a national conference on plant health organised by the Horticultural Trades Association.

She gave delegates information about how European legislation is developed and amended, the scope of a planned new regime for combatting plant disease, and the potential impact on the industry if Britain left the EU.

The Conservative MEP, who sits on the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, is herself a small-scale grower. She is currently piloting a new package of EU legislation to tackle deadly plant pests by stopping them arriving from abroad.

She explained to the conference at Sand Hutton, near York, that lengthy and detailed three-way negotiations between the EU’s Parliament, Commission and Council had been necessary to broker an agreement to curb the influx of microscopic pests that can devastate plant species.

She said: “It was a question of achieving a balance. On the one hand protecting our phytosanitary security – which is hugely important for us in Britain – and on the other hand facilitating trade and minimising the administrative burden and the associated cost of excessive red tape. I think that having a British MEP at the centre of negotiations has meant we have the best possible outcome for the UK.”

Miss McIntyre said if Britain voted to leave the EU in the forthcoming referendum it was likely we would then negotiate a deal to continue trading with the EU.

“That means we would find ourselves having to comply with the same rules and regulations as now in order to be part of that market – but without membership we would no longer be able to influence and shape the legislation to our liking,” she said.

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