With the EU moving rapidly towards concluding a trade agreement with Mercosur, Mairead McGuinness, MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament, has urged extreme caution on giving any concession on beef which could severely damage the EU beef market.
Speaking at an event today (Wednesday) in the European Parliament on the Agricultural challenges of the Mercosur trade negotiations, the MEP said it’s clear there is strong momentum for an agreement, with the Commission indicating a deal is possible by the end of the year.
“More progress has been made on reaching an agreement in the last month than in the last 15 years,” she said.
“In a worst case scenario, the price that EU agriculture might pay is estimated at €7billion, with particular concerns for the beef sector. It’s important that in the speed towards an agreement sight is not lost of the negative consequences for the agri-sector.
“The Commission stressed that this potential cost for agriculture will not happen as account will be taken of the sensitivity of the beef sector in particular, with TRQs and tariffs still likely to apply. However, it is worrying that we do not have any details of the likely offer on beef.”
The MEP said she stressed to the Commission the importance of ensuring that EU standards will not be compromised by a Mercosur agreement and will hold the Commission to account when they declare that EU food safety rules will not be compromised.
“The Commission is stressing that there are opportunities for EU agriculture exports to Mercosur and that growth opportunities for agriculture will come from outside the EU and not from within,” she said.
McGuinness urged the Commission to defend EU food safety interests and quality standards and to ensure that the sensitivities of the beef sector are addressed in the negotiations.
“Beef is an extremely sensitive product for the EU and anything which damages the market and reduces prices to beef farmers will be hugely detrimental not just to producers but also to the regions where beef production is an important sector, namely Ireland and France,” she warned.