IFA President Joe Healy said it is a positive move that beef has been withdrawn from the exchange of offers between the European Union and Mercosur taking place in Brussels today by EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.
The IFA President said now that the new Government is in place, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan must be very strong and make it clear to Commissioner Malmstrom that there is no justification for re-introducing beef into the Mercosur negotiations at any stage. He said, “Beef is a vital national interest for Ireland and under no circumstances can we allow the EU Commission to use it as the bargaining chip in the Mercosur negotiations”.
Joe Healy said IFA had raised major objections over the inclusion of beef in the Commission’s draft offer and had taken up this matter directly with the Taoiseach and the Minister for Agriculture. Mr Healy said that within 36 hours of being elected IFA President, he had travelled to Brussels to raise the matter with the EU Commission at the highest level.
Joe Healy said any negotiating strategy based on concessions on sensitive products including beef would be totally flawed and this was clear from the growing opposition that had emerged to the inclusion of beef among 20 Member States at the Farm Council. IFA will continue to build alliances with other countries which share our real concerns about the impact of these negotiations on Irish and European farmers.