EU beef market being ‘sacrificed’ for the sake of Mercosur deal

The EU beef market is being sacrificed for the sake of the Mercosur trade deal, according to Cormac Healy of Meat Industry Ireland (MII).

MII – the representative body of the meat processing industry – has strongly criticised the extent of the beef access offer being proposed by the EU Commission in its negotiations with the Mercosur trade bloc.

Given the massive uncertainty created by Brexit, it is completely unacceptable for the EU to give further concessions on Mercosur beef access to the European market, Healy added.

“More than 12 months ago, the commission was blocked by member states from making an offer of 78,000t because of the damage it would do to the EU market – and in particular the critically important steak market – and this was before the emergence of Brexit and the massive uncertainty that it creates.

The revised offer of 70,000t of additional beef access is grossly excessive and is clear evidence of the EU beef sector being sacrificed for the sake of this deal.

“Ireland, as the major net exporter of beef in the EU and the country facing the greatest impact of Brexit, will be most exposed to more EU concessions on beef imports from Mercosur.

“While the European Commission may argue the overall benefits to the wider EU economy from the proposed EU – Mercosur trade deal, it is sacrificing the EU beef sector in the process and ignoring its own Impact Assessment which highlighted the potential damage to our sector,” Healy concluded.

‘Hogan and Creed must stand firm in Mercosur talks’

Irish beef farmers are depending on the EU Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan, and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed to strongly oppose any offer on beef in Mercosur trade negotiations.

This was the opinion of IFA (Irish Farmers’ Association) President Joe Healy following leaks from Brussels that the EU Commission is about to make an offer on beef in the Mercosur talks.

“Now is the time for Commissioner Hogan to put his foot down in Brussels and stop any sell-out of the beef sector,” he said.