Commissioner announces beef import quota under Mercosur deal

An increase in the volumes of beef imports at preferential rates has been agreed between the EU and Mercosur, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan has revealed.

“We have had to make some significant concessions to achieve a balanced agreement,” he said.

“We have been able to strike a balance,” he added.

Specifically in relation to our beef quota which was an issue of great concern, the volume of imports of preferential rates will be increased by 99,000t.

“This is around 1.25% of total EU beef consumption but will be implemented over a period of five years,” he said.

“I would also make the point that it’s not that we don’t currently import beef and veal from South America. Last year we imported almost 270,000t of beef and veal from the four Mercosur countries, so we were already a well-established trader with that region.”

“Poultry is another area in which we have opened a new quota of 100,000t and this will be subject to gradual implementation over five years.”

€1 billion support package

“The commission stands ready of course to assist our farmers in the event of any major disturbance to the market place or by worries in relation to the food and agricultural sector, where we have a support package ready of up to €1 billion in the event of serious market disturbance.

“This will reinforce the supports available to our farmers through the Common Agricultural Policy,” he claimed.

Commissioner Hogan made the announcement at a live broadcast on Europe by Satellite (EbS), the European Union’s TV information service, this evening, Friday, June 28.

The announcement comes on the back of the news that the European Union and Mercosur today reached a political agreement for a comprehensive trade agreement.

“The new trade framework – part of a wider Association Agreement between the two regions – will consolidate a strategic political and economic partnership and create significant opportunities for sustainable growth on both sides, while respecting the environment and preserving interests of EU consumers and sensitive economic sectors”, according to a statement issued by the European Commission.

It was noted that as of today, the EU is the “first major partner to strike a trade pact with Mercosur”, a bloc comprising Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The agreement concluded today will “cover a population of 780 million and cement the close political and economic relations between the EU and Mercosur countries”, the commission claims.

The run-up to the deal saw increasingly deep concerns voiced by Irish stakeholders and the Irish Government.