Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has urged the Irish Government to halt the proposed EU Mercosur trade deal with South American countries.
Reacting to news that Germany will push for higher beef concessions in order to get even better access for their car industry in the next round of trade negotiations Carthy said:
“The EU’s trade agenda cannot be driven by one country, to the peril of all others. And if there are any increases on the existing offers of beef and poultry in Mercosur negotiations, this is exactly what will happen.
“When the mandate for Mercosur was agreed it was accepted by all parties that agriculture would be extremely sensitive to any concessions on tariffs. This position was bolstered following the Operation Weak Flesh revelations before the summer.
“It is unacceptable that there are now reports that the Commission is exerting further pressure to try and increase the October offer of 70,000tn tariff free beef imports.
“Brexit is already threatening 32,000 job losses in the meat industry according to a report published by the European Livestock and Meat Traders Union. Yet here the Commission is gambling away the rest, with a trading partner proven to be unable to guarantee even the minimum food safety requirements.
“The stakes are too high in this deal to allow countries like Germany to force our hand. A 15 year phase-in period for the opening up of the car industry is a small price to pay in order to protect hundreds of thousands of jobs in agriculture.
“I have already written to Commissioner Hogan on this topic, and I have demanded full disclosure on the offers made on poultry, an important sector in many Irish regions which has often been forgotten in the Mercosur debate.
“Disappointingly, he has yet to answer my letters and requests, showing again the lack of transparency and undemocratic nature of these negotiations.
“Threats of increased offers on beef must not be used as leverage to push farmers to agree to the grossly excessive offers made in October. These offers must be retracted if the sector is to have any chance of surviving. The Irish government must now insist that these negotiations are halted”.