It's make or break time on Mercosur beef deal
Minister warns of 'immediate threat' to beef sector from Commission's bargaining position
The Irish Government is upping the ante on its opposition to an agreement that could grant Brazil and Argentina increased access into the EU's prime beef market.
High-level talks on the proposed trade deal between the EU and Mercosur bloc of South American nations resume today.
Ireland and a coalition of over 10 EU states are lobbying to restrict the potential beef offer well below 100,000 tonnes, according to an EU source.
Speculation has mounted that there has been willingness on the part of some of the larger EU members states to push the offer over 100,000 tonnes.
Minister of State Andrew Doyle told his EU colleagues there was a "very clear, immediate and significant threat" from the Commission's most recent offer to lower tariffs on 70,000 tonnes of South American beef imports.
He insisted there could be "no further agriculture concessions" in the trade talks, particularly on beef, as Ireland and the rest of the EU grapples with Brexit and struggles to meet new climate targets.
"To offer a higher amount would represent a reckless move that would simply compound the difficulties that have already been created, and further jeopardise the prospects for the sector," he told ministers ahead of today's talks.
Discussions with the four South American countries - Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay - resume this week after halting in December.