UCKFIELD, UK: Plants For Europe (PFE), Europe’s leading independent plant breeders’agent, based in East Sussex, England, actively campaigned for a Remain vote in last week’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU. The company’s director Graham Spencer cannot deny that he is disappointed by the outcome of the vote. “However, we must accept the circumstances as they are and work to maintain and extend the success of our business by serving our customers and the plants that we represent in the best way possible.”
At the moment, the UK remains a member of the European Union. European Union law continues to be in force in the UK, including all laws related to Plant Variety Rights. Holders of Plant Variety Rights can expect that royalties should continue to be paid, subject to the current economic volatility. EU Plant Variety Rights continue to be legally enforceable throughout the 28 member states of the EU, including all parts of the UK.
In the medium and long term, one should expect some changes to Plant Variety Rights, particularly in the UK. “However, we do not yet know what those changes might be. Plants For Europe is already in contact with the Horticultural Trades Association and other important organisations in order to promote the interests of plant breeders and to devise the best lobbying position and strategy to try and secure the best possible outcome for plant breeders. Our customers can be sure that we will do what we can to protect their interests – in fact, we may, in time, ask our customers to assist in any lobbying that is required,” said Spencer.
Plants For Europe had drawn up plans in advance for both possible outcomes of the referendum vote. “We are already taking measures to ensure that we are still able to administer both EU Plant Variety Rights and UK Plant Breeders Rights for our customers, even if the UK does fully withdraw from the EU and is no longer part of the EU Plant Variety Rights jurisdiction. These measures do not need to be implemented immediately, as we are yet to see exactly what the British government’s policies will be. The timetable for withdrawal is unclear and, until withdrawal is completed, the UK remains within the EU Plant Variety Rights system. At the very least, we expect withdrawal will take two years and is unlikely to be completed before the end of 2018 – it may, in fact, take much longer,” concluded Spencer.