The Sinn Fein MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has repeated his call for an immediate halt to the Mercosur negotiations as reports indicate that they may entering their final stage.
Carthy, a member of the European Parliament’s Agriculture & Rural Development committee, said:
“Time is running out for the Irish government to call a halt to an EU trade deal with Mercosur countries that could have devastating implications for Irish agriculture. Reports this week suggest that the EU has gained concessions from the Mercosur countries relating to the car industry, the priority sector for European negotiators. In return a generous offer for access to the EU market for agriculture produce, including beef and poultry, will be undoubtedly sought.
“By allowing the negotiations to reach this point without any serious level of opposition the Irish Government and Commissioner Phil Hogan have exposed European farmers to a potentially devastating prospect.
“The EU Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmstrom, is well aware of the potential impacts to agriculture, particularly the beef sector. Despite this she pushed hard for concessions in other sectors leaving the beef agreement until a later stage in the negotiation.
“If the Commissioner was serious about protecting beef farmers, she should have sought agreement in that regard early in the negotiations. Instead the commission have offered increasingly generous terms on agriculture access and in the process have clearly shown that there is a willingness to sacrifice EU farming interests for the German car industry.
“This has been possible only because the Irish government haven’t stood up for Irish farming interests. Successive Ministers, including most recently Heather Humphreys, have agreed to negotiating mandates for EU trade deals with countries as diverse as Canada, the USA, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia without any examination of their impact, either individually or cumulatively, on Irish farming interests.
“Of course Mercosur poses the greatest risk, to such an extent that farm organisations have joined my call on the Irish government to block the deal, but the truth is that these are each dangerous trade deals that should be debated and examined in depth before any further agreement.
“In respect of Mercosur, time is clearly running out. The next round of negotiations is scheduled to commence on 4 June in Uruguay. Commissioner Phil Hogan has a responsibility to, not just Ireland, but also all European farmers, to prevent a sell out.
“The Irish government must now also intervene immediately to inform the European Commission that they will not accept any trade deal that exposes Irish farmers to potentially huge losses”.