'It is a real battle': Creed warns of very significant forces pushing beef deal with South Americans
The Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed told the Dail this week that that the Government remain absolutely steadfast in its opposition to a Mercosur trade deal involving significant volumes of beef.
However, he warned that there are "very significant other forces across the European Union favouring a deal and which would willingly trade beef access for access to other agricultural or industrial products".
“It is a real battle. I have been in contact with Commissioners Hogan and Malmström and I have spoken with the French Minister on a number of occasions about the matter.
"It is a real cause of concern," he said.
Negotiators for the European Union and Latin American bloc Mercosur have concluded two weeks of talks in Brussels on a free trade deal with no clear breakthrough and no formal offers made.
The two sides’ negotiating teams have agreed to continue discussions in Asuncion, Paraguay, in the week beginning Feb. 19, a Commission spokesman said on Friday.
"There is still some work to be done," he told a Commission news conference.
The EU signaled last week that it could open up its market to more beef from Mercosur countries Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, raising its potential offer for beef access to 99,000 tonnes per year from a previous 70,000 tonnes, people close to the talks said.