Sinn Féin MEP, Matt Carthy, has called on the Irish Government to demand an immediate halt to Mersocur trade talks after it emerged that the EU has increased its offer on beef quota to the South American bloc to 99,000t.
Carthy said that news of the inflated offer means comes at the worst possible time for the Irish beef industry who are already dealing with the uncertainty created by Brexit and with volatile market prices.
Carthy, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee said:
“Since the publication of the EU’s initial offer of 70,000t, which was irresponsibly high, we have witnessed crocodile tears from Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil representatives who have promised to support Irish farmers in the Mercosur process.
“At that time of that offer I wrote to Commissioner Hogan requesting that he insist that Irish and EU farmers be protected by removing sensitive sectors, such as beef and poultry, from the negotiations. He refused and instead later set a ‘red line’ for beef quota at a 100,000t.
“I don’t even think Commissioner Hogan will be brave enough to claim that allowing the offer to be 1,000t short of his supposed red line has done farmers any favours. It is an utter insult to set a red line at 100,000t but accept 99,000 as a reasonable compromise.
“The fact that a new increased offer has been made proves that neither Fine Gael, or their appointed EU Commissioner, can be trusted to defend Irish interests in EU trade deals.
“Their support, and that of Fianna Fáil, to the CETA trade deal with Canada (which includes an annual beef quota of 50,000t) proves that they are willing to sacrifice indigenous Irish industries, farmers and our democratic institutions rather than stand up to the European Commission or corporate vested interests.
“The truth is that the Mercosur talks are progressing at the behest of German car manufactures in the knowledge that Irish and EU farmers will be sacrificed. The Irish government can and should call halt immediately.
“It is clear that we cannot trust sentiments such as those expressed by lead EU negotiator Sandra Gallina who has acknowledged in the context of Brexit this is not the time to be jeopardising Irish beef further.
“Seventy five percent of imported EU beef already comes from the Mercosur countries, this new offer makes oversupply inevitable causing a race to the bottom on prices that Irish farmers simply cannot win.
“The time for rhetoric is over. Irish political representatives can support dangerous trade deals such as Mercosur and CETA or they can support Irish farmers. They cannot support both.
“Sinn Féin are steadfast on the side of our farming families and the communities that depend on them.
“Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil need to join us and demand that the EU’s regressive trade agenda is scrapped in favour of sustainable, fair and progressive trade deals.”