The European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI Committee) has called on the European Commission to call a truce and negotiate a moratorium on trade sanctions with the new Biden Administration in the US.

The committee said the EU must “immediately launch negotiations with the new US administration to call a truce in the Airbus/Boeing dispute and avoid further sanctions that damage EU farmers”.

The matter refers to a matter in October 2019, when the US won the largest arbitration award in World Trade Organization (WTO) history in its dispute with the EU over illegal subsidies to aircraft manufacturer Airbus.

This resulted in the application of additional 25% tariffs on EU agricultural exports to the US, which included Irish food exports such as butter, cheese, liqueurs and pork products.

In a letter today (Wednesday, January 20) addressed to the EU’s Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis, the chair of the Agriculture Committee Norbert Lins and the majority of political groups in the committee call on the European Commission “to intervene directly” in the Airbus/Boeing dispute as sanctions stemming from it are “causing severe damage to numerous European agricultural sectors”.

In the letter, MEP Lins said:

“I would like to express our serious concern.

A conflict arising in the aeronautical field is gravely impacting agricultural communities across Europe, which are already struggling with the dire impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.

“The conflict and the retaliatory tariffs have been escalating since October 2019. The latest tariffs introduced on January 12 will further aggravate the economic situation,” the letter says.

Lins stressed that “it is time for the [EU Commission] to seize on the new momentum in Washington”, referring to the change at the White House.

He outlined his belief that, with the incoming Biden administration, “diplomacy can prevail and de-escalation be achieved”.

“The US and the EU are historic allies and our vocation is to trade with each other. Therefore, we call on [Vice-President Dombrovskis] to negotiate with President Biden’s administration a moratorium on sanctions on both sides of the Atlantic which would allow negotiators to find an effective and long-lasting solution to this dispute”, Agriculture MEPs write in the letter.

It is crucial to establish a truce as soon as possible [as] the absence of a moratorium would further jeopardise our agricultural producers and traders.

The Agriculture Committee chair also expressed “regret that no additional financial support has yet been adopted to compensate for the losses suffered by the agri-food sectors as a result of the trade dispute”.

He wants “a compensatory fund” to “be introduced as it was decided some years ago following the Russian embargo”.