Carthy report on post-Brexit trade framework adopted by EU Agriculture committee
Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has welcomed this week’s adoption of a Report outlining the future division of sensitive agricultural tariff rate quotas after Brexit. Speaking following adoption of the paper he authored in the Agriculture and Rural Development Committee this week, Carthy said that while he was pleased that the report passed with a large majority he was nonetheless disappointed that, due to an alliance of Fine Gael’s EPP group with the British Torres and Unionists, it was not as strong as it could have been. He said:
“The potential final outcome of Brexit continues to be a major concern for many people but especially Irish farmers. Farmers still have no idea how cross-border movement and trade will be dealt with, what effect changes on labelling and food safety will have on their products, and what the future relationship with our biggest trading partner will look like.
“However, this week, thanks to the adoption of my report, we have moved one step closer to dealing with one issue of concern for farmers – that is the 87 agricultural tariff rate quotas the EU has with third countries all over the world.
“For example, the EU currently has an agreement to accept almost 230,000 tonnes of sheep meat from New Zealand at a fixed tariff. Although the agreement to accept this meat is between the EU and New Zealand, the vast majority of this fixed annual tonnage currently goes to British markets. Now that Britain is leaving leave the European Union, this, and hundreds of other Tariff Rate Quotas have to be divided between them and remaining EU Member States. The vote that took place this week ensures that these quotas are divided up based on the actual amount being imported by Britain versus other EU Member States.
“It will hopefully ensure that there will be no displacement of products that have the ability to drive down domestic prices.
“As the lead MEP on this file I fought to ensure that the renegotiation ongoing at WTO level on this issue is limited to this division according to strict methodology. It should result in no greater market access nor no more favourable terms of access for third countries. This is to ensure that sensitive agricultural products are protected at a time of already heaightened uncertainty.
“Although the final outcome of the text the AGRI Committee produced was strong concerning current divisions, I am hugely disappointed that Fine Gael submitted amendments that weakened the text regarding future amendments.
“A bizarre alliance of Fine Gael’s EPP group alongside British Tory & northern Unionist MEPs secured a majority to allow the European Commission to alter this agreed division of TRQs at any point in the future, should disgruntled third country partners be disappointed with their share, without adequate recourse to the members of the European Parliament.
“This unfortunate positioning shows the willingness of Fine Gael to side with the Commission on trade issues, even when it could potentially be to the detriment of Irish farmers.
“Argentina, Canada, Brazil, New Zealand and Uruguay have already taken issue with the EU’s proposed method to divide the TRQs between the EU and Britain. The position pursued by Fine Gael will make deviations to the current tariff rate quotas easier and that will worry many farmers.
“Trade is going to be the most sensitive aspect of the post-Brexit world for farmers who will need to secure new markets for products, but crucially will need to protect their current markets. This week’s report adopted was, on balance, a positive development but the actions of EPP MEPs show that we need to remain ever vigilant”.