The EU proposal to offer South American countries a quota for 78,000 tonnes of beef sales in the EU was opposed this week by agriculture ministers from 20 EU member states.
Austria, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, and Slovenia, supported by other member states, opposed the proposed EU offer of quotas for “trade-sensitive” agricultural products in Mercosur trade talks.
Farming commissioner Phil Hogan told ministers he shared concerns over the push to exchange market access offers in EU-Mercosur trade talks, and indicated that these concerns will be referred to the commissioner responsible for trade issues.
Meat Industry Ireland called for the government to intervene “to stop the European Commission from making an unjustified and damaging offer to the Mercosur bloc in the context of renewed trade negotiations”.
MII director Cormac Healy said: “This has the potential to have a major destabilising effect on the EU beef market in particular but also raises real concerns for the pigmeat and poultry sectors.
“A renewed offer by the EU to Mercosur is completely unjustified, given that the European Commission has undertaken, at the request of member states, to carry out an impact assessment on the cumulative impact of all ongoing trade negotiations on the EU agri-food sector, and this will not be completed until after the summer.”
Mr Healy said: “The urgency of this matter is such that the Taoiseach needs to intervene with President Juncker to stop a new giveaway offer being made and, at an absolute minimum, to ensure that offers are not made on sensitive products such as meat”.
IFA national chairman Jer Bergin said Mercosur beef access is being proposed despite EU beef consumption falling over 500,000 tonnes since 2010.
The Mercosur countries are already a major agri-exporter to the EU, with 86% of our beef imports and 70% of our poultry meat imports, and do not need extra tariff-free quotas, said Thomas Magnusson, president of Cogeca, the EU farm co-ops grouping.
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