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Sunday 4 December 2016

EU in brief: Organic talks in limbo

Sarah Collins

Published 19/10/2016 | 17:21

The rules were first tabled more than two years ago to encourage the take-up of organic farming (AP Photo/Petar Petrov)
The rules were first tabled more than two years ago to encourage the take-up of organic farming (AP Photo/Petar Petrov)

This week could mark the last chance for new EU organics rules, which have become mired in legalistic wrangling.

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The rules were first tabled more than two years ago to encourage the take-up of organic farming, which has not kept up with the fast-growing market for organic products.

While the major stumbling block is still whether to set limits for pesticide residues in organic food and feed, negotiators have become embroiled in a row over who has the power to set technical standards.

Talks on the proposal will resume this week, but the Commission has threatened to withdraw it if there is no progress made.

It will decide in October whether there is still a chance of agreement.

Commission plans cap ‘fitness test’

A European Commission advisory group has recommended that the Common Agricultural Policy undergo a wide-ranging review, or “fitness check”.

It follows a declaration at a major conference in Cork earlier this month that EU agricultural “policies must be accountable and fit for purpose”.

Over 100 environmental, social and health groups have called for the CAP to be overhauled.

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TTIPs logjam could benefit Irish beef

A pause in the TTIP negotiations might not be a bad thing for Irish beef farmers.

While the Government has said they are satisfied with the 50,000 tonnes granted to Canada under CETA, the impact of that deal on top of parallel agreements being done with the US and the South America bloc of countries known as Mercosur could be huge.

Add to that the uncertainty over what Brexit will mean for Irish beef exports to the UK.

The European Commission is currently doing a "cumulative assessment" of the impact of all of the EU's trade deals on the agricultural sector, but the study won't be ready before the end of October.

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