Annual Review and Outlook 2020: Mercosur ratification ‘to prove challenging’

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine has said that the ratification process for the EU-Mercosur trade deal is “likely to prove challenging”.

The department released its Annual Review and Outlook 2020 yesterday (Thursday, October 8), where it assesses the trade agreement, particularly in the context of a tariff rate quota of 99,000t on beef from South America.

The review states that the formal ratification process for the agreement – which requires member states to sign off on it – will be difficult at both member state and European Parliament levels.

The review also noted that if it is ratified, it could take six years before the agreement is in place, allowing for the time taken for ratification and the phasing-in of the beef tariff quota over a five-year period.

The document states that Ireland’s ultimate decision on the issue will be informed by the results of the Economic and Sustainability Impact Assessment (ESIA) for Ireland.

Blow for trade deal

Just this week, the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement was handed a blow in its prospects for ratification when the European Parliament voted for an amendment to the EU Common Commercial Policy, a decision that has been described as a rejection of the trade agreement in its current form.

The plenary session of the parliament voted on Tuesday (October 6) by 345 votes to 295 to add the amendment, which highlights the need for the agreement to ensure compliance with the standards of European production and fair competition.

According to French MEP Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, who was involved in tabling the amendment, the result of the vote indicates “we cannot ratify the Mercosur agreement as is”.

Welcoming the parliament’s vote, the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) president Tim Cullinan said the result is “the latest statement of opposition to a deal that fails the test of meeting EU standards”.