Mercosur beef deal defended again by Hogan

  

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Phil Hogan has launched a fresh defence of the Mercosur trade deal, insisting there are safeguards in place to protect beef farmers who fear an influx of cheap South American meat.

The EU Agriculture Commissioner came under fire from farmers and politicians here after the deal was agreed in June.

Once fully ratified, it will see almost 100,000 additional tonnes of beef from the Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay allowed into the EU annually.

Mr Hogan faced renewed criticism as he appeared at the Thomas D'Arcy McGee Summer School in Carlingford, Co Louth. Fianna Fáil councillor Erin McGreehan accused him of sounding the "death knell" for beef farmers in his support for the deal.

Mr Hogan defended his involvement, pointing out it was the culmination of 20 years of negotiations between the EU and the Mercosur countries.

He also said: "You may not know there's 276,000 tonnes of beef coming into the European Union from those countries already. None of it has come to the island of Ireland in 2017 and 2018."

Mr Hogan also said there are "safeguarding mechanisms" to limit the impact on the beef industry in the European Union or Ireland.

He said it is the first time such safeguards are being put in place, adding: "If there's a surge of imports under a tariff rate quota they can be blocked for four years." Tariff rate quotas put a ceiling on the volume of beef that can be imported at preferential rates.

Mr Hogan also moved to address concerns over the quality of the South American beef. He said phytosanitary conditions have been put in place to ensure "no product comes into the European Union without adhering to EU standards and there's 100pc checks and controls".

Mr Hogan previously said in the event of any significant market disturbance arising from the deal, the commission will support Irish and European farmers with a support package of up to €1bn.

Irish Independent