The British potato industry is in talks with the European Union about relaxing the seed potato measure, but is not very hopeful about this.
Because some varieties are grown in Great Britain using techniques that are not allowed in the EU, these (especially: Scottish) seed potatoes cannot be exported to the EU countries.
Because the cultivation methods used in the EU are permitted in Great Britain, EU seed potatoes may be exported to England. The British potato industry thinks this is unfair and wants equal treatment.
The EU has already announced that it will not consider a permanent change to the seed potato ban. This is due to the fact that the regulations in the UK are not in line with the EU rules. While negotiations on third-country equivalence remain open, little is expected to change until later this year.
Last year, the United Kingdom exported 30,000 tons of seed potatoes to the European mainland during the winter months, of which about 20,000 tons (worth € 15 million) came from Scotland.
Robert Doig, director of seed potato cultivation company Calendonia Potatoes, said new varieties are under development that were destined to be shipped to the EU but are now no longer available for export. This is a major problem for British breeders as substantial investments are involved in these new varieties.
“Our registration costs have already doubled and we cannot afford to also double the costs of testing and development. Until we are certain that we will be able to export to the EU in the future, it is simply not realistic to invest extra in varieties for the EU market. ”