German minister’s criticism of Mercosur deal ‘probably decisive’

Comments made by Germany’s agriculture minister in which she seemingly criticised the EU-Mercosur trade agreement have been picked up on by farm organisations here.

The Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA) has highlighted the comments in which Julia Klockner apparently suggested that she did not see the agreement getting EU member state support in its current format.

According to Pat McCormack, the ICMSA president, Klockner indicated that the agreement provides South American countries with an incentive to clear forests to access cheap land for beef production.

The comments made by the German minister must be considered very notable and most probably decisive.

“The overwhelming likelihood now is that [the agreement] will not be ratified and, pending full renegotiation, the agreement as presented by the European Commission should now be parked indefinitely,” McCormack said.

At present, Germany holds the presidency of the Council of the European Union, meaning that Klockner is the de-facto head of that council when it meets in its agriculture and fisheries configuration.

“We think that Minister Klockner is simply saying out loud what everyone knows: That this version of the Mercosur agreement will never pass through the parliaments of the member states and it would be sensible for everyone – including the South American countries – to accept that reality and move on,” the ICMSA president said.

McCormack argued that, should the agreement be renegotiated, it should be “on the same environmental and sustainable framework for both the EU and the Mercosur countries”.

“Perceptions have changed. Personnel have changed. The idea that food security is an abstract idea that’s not important has also changed; people know now, in the midst of Covid-19, that we always have to be able to feed ourselves and rely on our own food production,” he highlighted.

“Mercosur was fatally flawed from day one by the idea that the regulations and rules that the EU applied to its own farmers would not be applied to farmers and countries from whom it intended importing vast quantities of beef.

“Minister Charlie McConalogue should look at our position and join the Germans and the others in announcing what is already clear to us all: The flames of the burning Amazon that followed the announcement of the deal have ended up consuming the deal itself,” McCormack concluded.