Matt Carthy MEP: FF & FG approach to EU trade deals mean Mercosur agreement imminent
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has warned that the recent news of reopening talks on the proposed EU-Mercosur free trade agreement is very bad news for the Irish agricultural sector, especially beef farmers. He said that the approach of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael to dangerous EU trade deals means that a strong showing for those parties in next week’s election will mean that the likelihood of a Mecosur deal will be increased.
The Midlands North West representative said: “Reports of the reopening of talks on the Mercosur deal have intensified in recent days with Brazilian negotiators claiming that France – which had previously taken a position defending the French agricultural sector – has now dropped its opposition in exchange for access to Mercosur countries’ markets for EU industrial goods.
“The perilous position of Irish farmers has been largely ignored by the EU in its drive for new generation trade deals. This is because Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have offered blanket support for all EU trade deals regardless of the cost to Irish agriculture and indigenous businesses. Hence they support the CETA deal with Canada despite the facilitation of a 50,000 tariff-free beef quota and the inclusion of an Investment Court system that will allow foreign companies to sue national governments for enacting progressive legislation.
“The Mercosur deal promises to flood EU markets with further hundreds of thousands of lower quality beef. The very fact that Fine Gael agreed a mandate for the EU commission to negotiate this deal, without a whimper from Fianna Fáil, should be a cause of serious concern to Irish farmers.
“Some of the key issues that led to the collapse of talks previously were transparency and food standards. Unbelievably, the European Commission was prepared to offer Mercosur countries a 99,000 tonne quota on beef just weeks after several Brazilian factories were delisted due to sanitary concerns.
“The European Commission have never prioritised the interests of farmers or rural communities because the lucrativeness of the South American markets for the German automotive industry meant that agricultural access for South American has become a key bargaining chip.
“Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan and the Irish government have continuously failed to stand up to the commission in the interests of Irish agriculture across a range of trade deal talks.
“Brazilian negotiations are indicating that they believe the deal will be sealed in coming months, when Brazil takes over the presidency of Mercosur.
“The election of the extreme right militarist Jair Bolsonaro as Brazilian president in November should have been the final nail in the coffin for the Mercosur deal. Bolsonaro has clearly expressed his intention to attack the rights of women, Indigenous people, minorities, LGBTI people and the poor in Brazil. He has already enacted policies doing so.
“Last year I negotiated a report in the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee that warned that there will be a direct downward pressure on prices farmers receive should this deal go ahead. The cumulative impact of this and other deals are setting the sector up for disaster.
“It is absolutely appalling that Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil have been loud cheerleaders of potentially ruinous free trade deals that threaten Ireland’s rural communities, that are conducted entirely behind closed doors with no public scrutiny and that all include secret investment courts where corporations can sue elected governments for enacting policies that they don’t like, just because they may impact on their profits.
“A vote for Sinn Féin MEPs this Friday is a vote against any EU free trade deals that undermines our democratic structures or devastates rural communities & vulnerable economic sectors in Ireland. It will be a vote for progressive free trade and fair trade policies that protect Irish interests while providing access to world markets”.