Farm Ireland

Thursday 19 July 2018

'Don’t throw EU farmers overboard': MEPs say new trades must work for EU farmers too

Photo: Bloomberg
Photo: Bloomberg
Ciaran Moran

Ciaran Moran

Potential trade deals with Australia and New Zealand must uphold high EU standards and protect vulnerable EU producers, European Parliament Agriculture Committee has said.

Ambitious, balanced and comprehensive free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand that would fully respect high EU’s social, production, environmental, food safety and animal welfare standards, protect Union’s vulnerable agricultural sectors and safeguard large enough list of geographically protected EU foodstuffs could be beneficial for both parties, Agriculture MEPs said on Monday in two opinions for the International Trade Committee, which will prepare a draft Parliament′s position for future trade talks with both countries.

Don’t throw EU farmers overboard

Both countries have relatively small markets for EU exports but competitive export-oriented farming sectors, say MEPs warning against the risk of serious imbalances of the agreement to the detriment of EU farmers.

EU’s agricultural sector must not be used as a bargaining chip to secure increased access for other products to markets of Australia and New Zealand, they insist.

Exclude sensitive products and negotiate safeguard clauses

Opening-up of the market in certain sensitive products, such as dairy, beef, sheep and veal, could damage EU producers by exposing them to excessive and unsustainable pressure, say MEPs.

They therefore call for transitional measures and appropriate quotas, insist on safeguard measures in case of a surge in imports, and suggest excluding the most sensitive sectors from negotiations.

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Thorough impact analysis needed

Even though the Commission has already published impact assessments of potential trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, further detailed analysis are necessary to evaluate gains and losses of liberalised trade on all sectors and all EU member states, say MEPs.

They insist on looking into cumulative impact of all existing and potential EU trade concessions stemming from WTO arrangements, the CETA deal with Canada or potential agreement with Mercosur, and call on the Commission to take Brexit into account when launching trade talks with Canberra and Wellington.

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