Creed throws curveball at Fianna Fáil benches over Mercosur

The EU-Mercosur trade deal was a hot topic for debate in the Dáil yesterday, Tuesday, June 2, with Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Michael Creed fielding questions from Fianna Fáil deputies.

After addressing TD’s concerns on the trade agreement, the minister responded to a point by Fianna Fáil’s spokesperson on agriculture, Charlie McConalogue, who said the deal “represents a political failure on the part of yourself minister, the Taoiseach, and particularly [European Commissioner for Agriculture] Phil Hogan”.

Minister Creed defended Commissioner Hogan by pointing out that the trade deal was negotiated by European Commissioner for Trade Celia Malmstrom, who is a member of the same European Parliament party that Fianna Fáil is a member party of.

The minister also fielded questions from Bobby Aylward and Jackie Cahill, who also had some stern words for Commissioner Hogan.

Minister Creed also moved to ensure the house that the trade agreement is “not a done deal”.

“This is a high-level agreement at a political level between the commission and Mercosur member states. It’s a deal that hasn’t been approved by any government, commission, EU parliament, council of trade ministers, or indeed national parliament,” Minister Creed highlighted.

He stressed that there was a period of time before the deal would be ratified, and claimed that the Government would be trying to influence the direction of the deal during that time.

I consider there to be considerable distance to travel before we have an inked deal, and we certainly haven’t. What we have is a proposed deal, and certainly we intend to use the time between now and then to influence in whatever way.

“And we’re not without friends in Europe in the context of this issue. We have made common cause with the French, the Poles and Belgians, for example,” the minister added.

During the session, Minister Creed also said that the full impact of the agreement is “unlikely to be felt for a number of years”, and that “we must acknowledge that there may be some opportunities for the dairy and drinks industry”.

He went on to outline the process that would be followed before the deal would be finalised.

It will first be put through a process called legal scrubbing and translation, which could take up to two years. It will then be submitted to the Council of Trade Ministers for approval by qualified majority vote and the European Parliament for its consent.

Following this, minister creed explained that national parliaments “may also ultimately have a role in ratification”.

He added that the Government would examine the deal, and would look at ways of diminishing its impact.