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  4. 2015 City Food Symposium: “UK, Food and Europe: The food implications of Brexit”




2015 City Food Symposium: “UK, Food and Europe: The food implications of Brexit”




Online Registration has now closed. There are a limited number of places available for registration at the event itself. Please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

The 2015 City Food Symposium is the 6th City Food Symposium. The topic this year is the food and agricultural implications of the UK potentially leaving the EU. The vote on whether Britain stays in or exits the EU is due by the end of 2017, but could be as early as 2016.

Location: Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, Tait Building.

Programme (Subject to change):

Chair: Prof Tim Lang, Centre for Food Policy, City University London

0930 Registration

1000 Opening Remarks: Introduction to the Day

- Alan Swinbank (Reading University) – Initial economic implications
- Ian Wright (D-G, Food & Drink Federation) – thoughts on food manufacturing
- Martin Haworth (D-G, National Farmers Union) – implications for farming
- Kate Trollope (Editor, EU Food Policy) – the view from Brussels so far
- Peter Backman (MD, Horizons FS) – why this matters for food service industries

LUNCH 1230-1330 (Lunch will be provided)
- Jenny Morris (Chartered Inst of Environmental Health / TIFSIP) – unravelling food enforcement
- Erik Millstone (SPRU, University of Sussex) - science and education policy
- Geof Rayner (Fellow, Centre for Food Policy) – social and health ramifications
- David Baldock (Director, Institute for European Environmental Policy) – environmental policy

TEA 1500-1530


- Andrew Curry (Director, The Futures Company) – Consumer culture
- Peter Stevenson (Chief Policy Advisor, CIWF) – the EU and animal welfare
– Pete Ritchie (Nourish Scotland) – feeding Scotland in the EU if not the UK
-- Andrew Jarvis (Executive Director, ICF International) – practical implications for policy making
1700 - 17.45 GRAND DEBATE (with voting)

17.45 - RECEPTION (All welcome)

The background:
The debate about UK membership of the EU is not new. It was heated in the 1970s too. Today, some people hanker after pre-Common Market days and regret entering it on January 1973, and the vote to remain in June 1975, and the widening of EU membership and policy role. Some worry about creeping EU control. Others see the EU has having brought a key food stability compared to the vagaries of the 1930s.

In the world of policy, food and the EU has become a specialist area. Food and agriculture are central elements in the EU structure. A sizeable section of UK media has criticised a supposedly interfering Europe for years, yet the public gets the benefits while not necessarily getting the detail. The polls show diversity and some uncertainty. Amidst all this, the food and agricultural implications of Brexit have barely been raised. This is what the 2015 City Food Symposium will address.

UK food production has been quietly declining for years for many reasons. The gap between imports and exports has been widening, much from other EU member states. Currently the UK food trade gap is c.£21bn in deficit, according to Defra statistics. Big food companies are nervous about supply chains being destabilised; farmers and growers, too. Lobbyists are lining up on all sides.

Symposium purpose:
The Symposium will look dispassionately at the question: what light can be cast on the implications for food of the UK leaving the EU? To do this, we need to consider many other questions.

What is the current EU-UK food relationship? How does it work? Has EU membership been good for food and for agriculture? What about the rest of the food supply chain? And what about consumers?

Is the EU good for them? And good for health and environment? Does the UK contribute to EU food democracy? What interests dominate EU food debates and actions? Considering these and other questions, the 2015 Symposium will:

  • summarise current thinking on the UK, EU and implications of Brexit for food and agriculture
  • assess the role of different sectors and actors in the coming debate
  • clarify current food and agricultural policy at UK, EU, global and local levels
  • suggest ways forward.

The format:
The Food Symposium has a tradition of excellent speakers. Speakers give short talks and then engage with questions with a “food literate” audience who want to explore the real issues.

All speakers are specialists, whether academics, civil society representatives, decision-makers or analysts. Speakers are asked to dive in to the topic, providing facts and further links where necessary. This is a chance to inform and to shape debate by providing analysis and data.

More information on the agenda and speakers will be made available at a later date and all sessions and talks will be video-recorded and put online.

Professor Tim Lang Comments:

“Food and agriculture are central elements in the EU structure, yet they have barely been raised in the Brexit debate so far. Big food companies are nervous about supply chains being destabilised, while farmers and growers are worried about how their exports may be affected.

“These wide-ranging potential implications are among the critical issues that the 2015 City Food Symposium will address. This is a chance to inform and shape debate by hearing and engaging with analysis and data from specialists across a wide range of disciplines.

“Polls of public opinion show diversity and some uncertainty about what our future relationship with the EU should be. Some hanker after pre-common market days, or fear creeping EU control and interference from Brussels.

“However, UK food production has been quietly declining for years and the gap between imports and exports has been widening – it is currently estimated to be around £21 billion in deficit. It is therefore vital that, with our health, jobs, food businesses and policy all firmly linked with the EU, we fully understand how leaving it could affect our country, and what the future might be afterwards.”


To aid in our preparations online registration has now closed for this event. If you wish to attend, please email

FRC details and membership:

Visit the Food Research Collaboration website for more information on the FRC and membership enquiries.

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When & where

10.00am - 6.30pmMonday 14th December 2015

Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre Tait Building City, University of London Northampton Square London EC1V 0HB United Kingdom

Contact Details

City Events Team

+44 (0)20 7040 8037

Contact the organiser