The European Commission has been accused of hypocrisy and double standards in pursuit of a trade deal with the South American group of Mercosur countries — Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
IFA members levelled the charge at a protest at the commission’s office in Dublin as speculation intensified a deal is imminent. IFA’s Joe Healy said it would be reckless of the commission to agree to a deal which would see thousands of tons of substandard beef from Brazil and other South American countries enter the EU. He accused seven EU leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel and the Netherlands Mark Rutte of making a mockery of EU farmers and their world class standards in a letter to commission president Jean-Claude Juncker backing a deal.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, French President Emmanuel Macron and the respective Belgian and Polish prime ministers, Charles Michel and Mateusz Morawiecki, have also written to Mr Juncker warning against any further agriculture concessions in the negotiations.
Agriculture Minister Michael Creed met with his French counterpart, Didier Guillaume, and EU commissioner Phil Hogan in Rome at the weekend. Mr Creed said he and Mr Guillaume expressed concern about a possible Mercosur deal, with specialist beef farmers in both Ireland and France being particularly exposed to negative impacts.
Mr Creed said he stressed to Mr Hogan that there should no further concessions on beef in the negotiations.
Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers Association Beef Committee chairman Edmund Graham said it will put pressure on Oireachtas members to vote down a Mercosur deal if it is agreed in principle by the EU.