A letter received by Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy this week shows the apparent willingness of the European Commission to give away more concessions in EU-Mercosur Free Trade Negotiations.

Speaking following receipt of the letter in response to a call he made for sensitive agricultural products to be removed from the negotiations, Carthy said:

“Following publication of the leaked beef and poultry offers in October, I wrote to Commissioner Hogan enquiring to know how his earlier statement that beef was “off the table” turned out to be untrue.

“Just over a year after the Commissioner’s remarks that beef was no longer part of the active negotiations, revised figures were leaked showing that only a fraction of the previous quote had been shaved off.

“I also called on the Commissioner to ensure full transparency on all offers made to the Mercosur trading bloc in all sectors.

“I welcome recent reports that Mercosur negotiations have for the moment stalled. However farmers must remain vigilant. It is common knowledge that the Mercosur trading partners are seeking even higher quotas on what have already been offered.

“Therefore this cooling off period should be a chance for the Irish Government and Commissioner to stand strong and convince European partners seeking further concessions that agriculture cannot be sacrificed in this way.

“The response I have received this week does nothing to dampen fears that the Commission may be willing to go further in their offers to push this deal over the line.

“Commissioner Hogan admits that he has never argued for beef to be excluded from the negotiations. In fact he inadvertently confirms the view that beef was held back until October with a view to getting a last minute concession for the German automobile industry. It is clear that beef has been the strategic bartering token all along.

“I am extremely disappointed with the lack of commitment to stand strong on this issue. France and Poland have already shown a willingness to defend our farmers. And a report by Spain’s main farming organisation last week showing that the EU offer is equivalent to two million suckler cows shows that there is a possibility for further coalitions in defence of this position.

“The position of the Fine Gael government, and their partners in Fianna Fáil, to the EU-Canadian trade deal CETA which also includes large agricultural quotas shows that farmers cannot depend on those parties to protect their interests in these trade deals.

“Therefore it is more imperative than ever that farmers and their representative organisations mobilise against Mercosur and all other dangerous EU trade deals”.

Farmers must remain vigilant on Mercosur trade deal

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