07 Jun 2016
YES TO FAIR TRADE BUT WITH HIGH EU PRODUCTION STANDARDS – 06 JUNEBrussels Daily
Yes to fair trade but with high EU production standards, Agriculture MEPs say
EU Commission must not place the interests of industry and services before those of agriculture when negotiating new free trade agreements, the Agriculture committee said on Monday. Members of the European Parliament stressed that trade agreements must be balanced, contain safeguards for sensitive sectors, promote fair competition and protect EU’s geographical indications and its high environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards.
Opening of new markets for EU agricultural production, such as dairy products, meat and live animals and fruits and vegetables, is important particularly in the context of the current EU farming crisis, Agriculture MEPs say in an opinion for the Parliament’s International trade committee adopted with 36 votes to two, with four abstentions. But the European agriculture must not be used in trade negotiations as an expendable bargaining chip, they stressed urging the Commission to stop placing interests of industry and services before those of EU farmers.
Protect sensitive products
Only balanced trade agreements with special safeguards for sensitive agricultural sectors should be approved, MEPs say. The Commission, when negotiating market access, should exercise the utmost caution and base its decisions on evaluation of impact on the EU’s farming sector and analysis of effects on local and regional agricultural markets, they add.
EU’s executive should also consult Parliament before accepting or proposing any commercial offer to its negotiating partners and amend of withdraws offers already on the table if an evaluation reveals adverse consequences for sensitive products, MEPs say. Agricultural sectors that could be seriously affected should be excluded from negotiations, they add.
Defend EU standards and GIs and ensure traceability of products
Any trade agreement which would not protect EU’s geographical indications should not be signed, MEPs stress and urge the Commission to continue to hold a firm position in this respect in all trade negotiations, including on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
Furthermore, MEPs call on the Commission to defend in trade negotiations Europe’s high environmental, food safety, animal welfare and social standards to allow EU farmers fully benefit from tariff concessions without being exposed to unfair competition. They also insist on including effective traceability rules in trade negotiations to ensure that a potential deal facilitates trade in genuinely EU products and foodstuffs produced by the trade partner.
The International trade committee is expected to vote an own-initiative report on the new forward-looking and innovative future strategy on trade and investment during its 16 June meeting. The plenary could then then scrutinise the draft text in July.
Monday, 06 June 2016
Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development
In the chair: Czesław Adam Siekierski (EPP, PL)