UK-wide requirements of “not for EU” labelling on food and drink will place an unnecessary burden on businesses, the Scottish Government has said.
Rural Affairs Secretary Mairi Gougeon has raised concerns with UK ministers, saying issues of food labelling are devolved.
Since last October, meat and dairy goods going to Northern Ireland from Great Britain have needed “not for EU” labels as part of the Windsor Framework of post-Brexit trade rules.
This requirement is expected to be rolled out across the UK from October 2024.
Gougeon has written to Steve Barclay, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, to request a meeting.
While acknowledging the labelling rule for goods going to Northern Ireland is needed to uphold the Windsor Framework, Gougeon said she and producers had concerns about making it UK-wide.
Any attempt to legislate for such a rule in Scotland without Holyrood’s consent would be a “very serious issue”, she said.
The SNP minister said: “As labelling is a wholly devolved matter, the policy decision on whether to place this additional burden on Scottish businesses should rest with the Scottish ministers.
“On the face of it, your proposals would impact a large number of businesses in Scotland who do not sell goods to Northern Ireland but would be required to change their labelling, or who sell into Europe and would be required to set up separate labelling streams.
“I do not support this GB-wide labelling proposal as it stands and I am not persuaded on the information provided so far that there is a case to introduce it in Scotland.
“I look forward to meeting with you and discussing this issue in due course.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The ‘Not for EU’ label is designed to support retailers and supermarkets to move food and drink products between Great Britain and Northern Ireland as smoothly as possible.
“It means suppliers will not have to establish different production lines to be able to sell goods in Great Britain as well as Northern Ireland, ensuring products remain on the shelves and consumer choice is maintained.”
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