The government has been called upon to block moves by the European Commission to complete the Mercosur trade deal by Meat Industry Ireland (MII), earlier today.

MII, the Ibec group representing the Irish meat processing and export sector, has expressed concern that this unbalanced deal would significantly undermine the EU beef market, with particular repercussions for the Irish beef sector.

Commenting on the matter, Cormac Healy, Director of MII, stated: “Given the huge uncertainty we face in the context of Brexit, coupled with the findings of the European Commission’s own impact assessment report that states a trade deal with Mercosur would have serious negative implications for the EU beef market, it is completely unacceptable that the European Commission would push ahead with more concessions on beef imports.

“These negotiations have been stumbling along for 20 years in a stop-start fashion, largely due to Mercosur’s own inability to act as a cohesive customs union and trade bloc, so now is certainly not the time to rush a deal over the line.

“While the outcome of Brexit is still uncertain, it has the potential to cause serious disruption to the EU beef market, sending the EU-27 market into massive beef surplus.”

Healy stressed that a Mercosur deal that would allow any additional volume of concessionary beef imports onto the EU market must be avoided.

As Ireland is the main exporter of beef to the rest of the EU market, the Irish cattle and beef sector would suffer the greatest consequences of this deal.

“The Taoiseach, Tanaiste and the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, must pursue a whole-of-government approach that ensures an unbalanced Mercosur deal does not destabilise the domestic or EU beef market further,” Healy concluded.