EU negotiators last night clinched a major trade deal with the South American economic bloc Mercosur.
The agreement could pave the way for an influx of cheaper South American goods, including beef, and has been sharply criticised by Irish farmers.
Negotiations with the Mercosur bloc, which includes Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay, and Argentina, began 20 years ago. With 260m consumers, the region is the fifth largest outside the EU.
European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker last night said that the deal was a “historical moment” that sends a “strong signal that we stand for rules-based trade”.
It is the largest trade deal ever concluded by the EU. It still has to be ratified by the European Commission and European Parliament however, a process which could take two years to resolve.
Reacting to the announcement, president of the Irish Farmers Association, Joe Healy, accused negotiators of selling out farmers in Ireland and Europe.
“This is a bad deal for Ireland and for Irish farmers, it’s a bad deal for the environment, and it’s a bad deal for EU standards and consumers,” Mr Healy said, calling on Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to block the ratification of the deal.