Britain threatens EU with ‘water wars’ that could see European bottled mineral water banned from UK.
The move would be in retaliation for the European ban on UK shellfish, according to a report by The Telegraph.
Environment Secretary George Eustice has described the ban on unpurified molluscs as an ‘indefensible’ move which threatens to devastate the UK’s fishing industry.
Ministers are said to be discussing measures to restrict the importation of European mineral water and seed potatoes as the UK looks set to end a number of continuity arrangements, according to the report.
The EU had secured a temporary agreement on the importation of seed potatoes until the end of June but this could now come under fire after Brussels refused to end its blockade on UK shellfish.
Senior Government sources told: ‘There is thought being given to where we can leverage in other areas.
‘We have continuity arrangements… we can stop these which means they won’t be able to sell their produce here.’
The publication said that the ‘escalated contingency planning’ was prompted after European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides refused to meet UK Environment Secretary George Eustice in an attempt to resolve the blockade.
The British Government has since pointed to an email sent by Christine Middlemiss, the UK’s chief veterinary officer, to an official at the Commission on September 16, 2019, to clarify that ‘live bivalve molluscs’ could be sold to the EU after Brexit if their purity was certified by a ‘model animal health certificate’.
The official responded that such shellfish ‘exported to the EU for purification can be certified’ with that documentation.
In a briefing note attached to the documents, the Department for the Environment, Food & Rural Affairs [Defra] stated: ‘The reply endorsed Defra’s view and agreed that the appropriate certificate was the one Defra officials had suggested.
‘This exchange therefore corroborated for Defra that the trade could continue following the end of the transition period.’