Matt Carthy has expressed his disappointment at repeated failures of right-wing MEPs to stand up for European farmers in trade negotiations.
Speaking after the European Parliament’s Agriculture and Rural Development Committee adopted its Opinion on the opening of Free Trade negotiations with New Zealand Carthy, who was Shadow Rapporteur on the file, said:
“The failure of Fine Gael’s grouping in the AGRI Committee to take a hard stance at this early stage of the EU New Zealand deal is extremely worrying. It exposes as crocodile tears their assertions relating to the Mercosur trade deal.
“Just last week, the European Commission announced their revised offers for beef, poultry and other meat products in the controversial Mercosur Trade deal with South American countries. The backlash from European farmers seems to have fallen on deaf ears when it came to the vote on New Zealand this week. Yet again, Fine Gael MEPs and their colleagues failed to take a robust stance when it comes to protecting our farmers.
“Last January, Fine Gael voted in favour of the Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA), which over 6 years will allow up to 65,000tn of beef to be imported into the EU tariff free. Over the same period up to 65,000tn of pork will enter EU markets. Their hypocritical stance when it comes to the New Zealand Free Trade Deal, which stands to decimate the European dairy industry, is untenable. Cheerleading CETA and free trade deals with New Zealand and Australia, while speaking about protecting Ireland when it comes to Mercosur, shows the barometer of Fine Gael’s trade position lies with foreign corporations and not Irish agriculture.
“Although some of my amendments were included in compromises in the New Zealand report adopted by the Agriculture & Rural Development committee, much of the text which will now be passed onto negotiators in the European Commission is on the fence when it comes to sensitive sectors.
“I have called for the exclusion of certain sectors and strong wording regarding the protection of small farmers and rural communities, who stand to lose out the most when it comes to these trans-continental free trade deals. I also called for assurances for the exclusion of the Investment Court System from any negotiating exchanges and the suspension of all new free trade negotiations while we are still in the midst of Brexit and Mercosur negotiations.
“Farm income is reaching drastically low levels. Yet, instead of coming up with legislation to tackle this problem and take farmers out of risk of poverty, the Commission is pushing ahead with its cheap food policy through Mercosur and now the New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.
“As Shadow Rapporteur for the New Zealand AGRI file, I will continue to fight for the dairy and lamb sectors most threatened by the agreement. I will also be writing to Commissioner Hogan to demand clarity on his flip-flopping positions when it comes to protecting agriculture in these deals.”