The apparent lack of progress at the weekend in the ongoing EU-Mercosur trade talks does not mean we can take our eye off the talks, McGuinness MEP and first Vice-President of the European Parliament has said today (Monday).
Speaking in Buenos Aires where she is representing the European Parliament at the Parliamentary Assembly on the WTO and attending the 11th Ministerial Council, McGuinness said the host country, Argentina, is pressing for progress in the negotiations and would like to announce a deal before the Ministerial Council concludes on Wednesday night.
“That is the message I’m getting from discussions with the Argentinian side.
“However, I do not see the talks reaching a point of conclusion by that deadline, but vigilance is needed,” she said.
“The pressure to conclude the talks cannot be at the expense of the European agriculture sector – a win for Mercosur in agriculture is a loss for EU farmers,” Ms McGuinness warned.
These countries already export significant volumes of beef under tariff rate quotas.
Ms McGuinness said analysis carried out by the EU proves that the EU beef sector, in particular, is vulnerable to increased imports of beef from South America.
“Equally EU audits show repeatedly that when it comes to meeting the high standards demanded of EU producers, Brazil has been found wanting,” the MEP said.
“Beef is a major issue for Ireland with concerns that concessions already on the table on beef would negatively impact the EU beef market and in turn prices to producers. Today in Buenos Aires I met with a representative of the French farming sector who articulated very clearly how a deal with Mercosur would not be in the interests of EU farmers and the rural regions.
“Those who say the potential damage from the deal can be fixed using CAP funds fail to understand the pressures on the existing CAP budget, but more importantly the devastation that parts of the EU, including Ireland would face if beef production, which is already a low income enterprise, is put under further pressure.
“Rushing towards a deal for the sake of a deadline is not appropriate and will be counter-productive, McGuinness warned.
“In Argentina I have raised these issues at the highest levels,” she said.