IFA President John Bryan welcomed the vote in the European Parliament today, criticising the EU Commission’s stance on the Mercosur trade negotiations. The Parliament adopted a report which stated that the European Commission must stop making concessions that adversely affect European farmers.
The Parliament criticised the Commission’s approach to trade negotiations in a report drafted by Greek MEP Georgios Papastamkos, which called on the Commission not to make concessions to third countries at the expense of the EU agricultural sector.
John Bryan said, “This is a strong message to the Commission by members of the European Parliament that they have gone too far with the Mercosur negotiations, and have failed to properly consult the EU Council or the democratically-elected Parliament.”
The IFA President said the overnight protest by livestock farmers at the Commission offices in Dublin and today’s decision by the Parliament showed that there is very strong opposition to the EU/Mercosur trade negotiations and the damaging impact on agriculture.
John Bryan said the negotiations pose a multi-billion euro threat to the European and Irish agriculture sector and the European Commission cannot allow agriculture and food security to be sacrificed. A recent COPA study has put the cost of a deal for the European beef and livestock sector at up to €25bn.
With the negotiations set to resume in Brussels in the next week, he said the European Commission cannot give in to the South Americans and must safeguard the fundamental principle of community preference in the Common Agriculture Policy. “Given the importance of agriculture and beef and livestock to the Irish economy, farmers will be looking to the new Government to take up this issue, which is of vital national interest, at the highest level in the EU Commission. The negative impact from a Mercosur deal would seriously damage our economic recovery and inflict major job losses at farm and industry level across the country.”
He said, “The demand from South America for a huge increase in imports would destroy the European steak market and severely damage beef prices in Ireland and across European markets. The EU cannot hand over half of our high value steak market to the South Americans, who fail to meet EU food safety standards.”