Minister Creed noted the shared concerns both he and Minister Guillaume have on the current state of play in these negotiations. Speaking following the meeting, the Minister said: “This was a very useful engagement with a Member State that has long been an ally of Ireland on many aspects of agricultural policy, and particularly in relation to the potential impact of an EU-Mercosur deal. We agreed that there are strong reasons for concern about the possible conclusion of such a deal in the short-term, with specialist beef farmers in both Ireland and France being particularly exposed to negative impacts. We will remain in close contact on this issue over the coming period.”
Minister Creed recalled the concerted efforts that have been made - and continue to be made - by Ireland, France and other Member States to defend the interests of the EU agriculture sector in the EU-Mercosur negotiations.
These have been going on for many years, and have included joint initiatives on issues such as the Commission conducting a Cumulative Impact Assessment on the effect of quota concessions across a range of trade negotiations on the sector, the exclusion of a beef tariff rate quota from negotiations in 2016, and the ongoing efforts to avoid any further concessions in the latest phase of negotiations. Most recently, Heads of State and Government from Ireland, France, Poland and Belgium have written to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker urging no further agriculture concessions, and Ministers Creed and Humphreys have written to Commissioners Hogan and Malmström to the same effect.
Minister Creed also met Commissioner Hogan to express his deep concern about news of momentum behind a Mercosur deal. He urged that there should be no further concessions on beef, which has been identified by the Commission’s own analysis as a vulnerable sector.
In other bilateral meetings en marge of the EU-AU Ministerial Conference, Minister Creed also met:
- New Zealand’s Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor – discussions focused on existing and future cooperation between both countries in relation to climate change and agriculture.
- Egypt’s Agriculture Minister DR Ezz El-Din Abu Steit – discussions focused on Ireland’sAgri food exports and technical cooperation.