The agri-food priorities outlined by France as it takes over the EU presidency have an “unapologetic air”, according to the Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers’ Association (ICMSA).

France took over the presidency of the Council of Europe for a six-month term on January 1.

The French President Emmanuel Macron has unveiled a highly-ambitious agenda across climate, taxation and digital policy.

It is reported that Macron may also use the opportunity to boost his chances of domestic re-election in April.


It is understood that France will focus on three agri-food priorities, including reciprocal sustainability trade standards.

This means that imports to the EU will now have to demonstrate comparable sustainability metrics.

France will also demand that EU member states will have to start working on regulating imports to show that no deforestation was involved in the goods.

Carbon farming and pesticide reduction also form part of the French agenda.

ICMSA president, Pat McCormack said that France had once again “demonstrated the basic levels of consistency” in demanding that non-EU food imports meet the same standards placed on EU farmers.

McCormack said that France brought an unapologetic quality to the issues between indigenous EU foodstuffs and non-EU imported foods.

He said that the Irish government “should take note” and support the French priorities.

“Time and again, going back decades, Irish farmers have seen policy from France during its EU presidencies that seemed more in tune with Irish farming than anything articulated by Ireland during our EU presidencies.

“We have long come to realise that when it comes to ensuring a level playing field between EU food and non-EU food imports – as opposed to just talking about it – then we, and farmers from most other member states, usually end up relying on France.

“This is a perfect example where the French recognise that there’s absolutely no point in heaping regulations on French or Irish or Danish farmers and putting them out of business, while permitting the mass importation of food from non-EU countries that was produced in a manner that is always less sustainable and usually downright environmentally destructive”, the ICMSA president said.