Calls for ‘safeguard clause’ for farmers if CETA has harsh impact on beef

The European Commission will have to come forward with a safeguard clause, including compensation, should there be a really harsh and negative impact from CETA on beef, Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness has said.

The Fine Gael MEP was speaking to Europarl Radio following yesterday’s controversial vote on the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada.

“There are some concerns for some sectors, including the sector I look after, in particular beef. But I was very heartened by Commissioner Malstrom’s comments in relation to beef, her awareness of the concerns by the Irish and the French, her commitment to outlining for us how she will put in place safeguards when this agreement actually kicks in.

“But remember we’re five years away from that part of the agreement taking effect and there are a lot of challenges for the beef sector in Europe that we perhaps need to address prior that deadline.

“What’s positive is the commitment from the Commissioners, both Trade and Agriculture, is that they know that there’s an issue about beef.”

There’s a crisis in beef at the moment, regardless of CETA.

“What we were asking for, we received commitments from the Commission that they will be very careful of this sensitive product and the potential negative consequences and act accordingly.”

On the dairy side of things, she said that Canada has had a very protectionist dairy market, there are opportunities for the Irish dairy sector to go into Canada and win market share.

“That will take work and effort but at least we have opened the door for those opportunities and many industries in Ireland.”

McGuinness said that the commentary in the last seven years on this trade agreement has been hijacked, in her view, by those on the extreme-right and the extreme-left who are anti-globalisation and possibly anti-trade.

“I’m very practical about this matter, Fine Gael voted in favour of trade. As a small island nation we live and die by trade. We have to trade to survive, we trade with the EU openly and freely.

“We now have concerns about what is going to happen with our trade with the United Kingdom when they leave the EU, so for me voting for this trade agreement with Canada makes sense.

“We’ve had letters from the Chambers of Commerce across Ireland, imploring us to vote in favour of this and they represent small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and understand that business and trade generate growth, jobs and opportunities.”

In light of the UK leaving the EU, the Midlands-North-West MEP said that the EU needs to make sure that it can do trade agreements, with global partners like Canada, because the UK is threatening to go global.

“This trade agreement is about fair trade, high standards and new market opportunities and not restricting the chances for SMEs in Italy or in Donegal to sell into the Canadian market.”