The proposed new president for the European Council recently voiced concerns on the impact that the Mercosur trade deal would have on the European beef sector.

Charles Michel, who is currently the prime minister of Belgium, was proposed by the council on Tuesday, July 2, to become its new president, which would see him replace Donald Tusk.

Late last month, Michel co-signed a letter with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, along with two other European leaders, expressing fears that a (then unconfirmed) Mercosur trade deal would “threaten this fragile sector in our countries”, referring to beef.

Varadkar and Michel, along with French president Emmanuel Macron and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, addressed the letter to then European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

The letter went on to say that the then proposed import quota that was being negotiated – 99,000t for beef, which was confirmed in last week’s deal – could be particularly damaging depending on how Brexit went.

“The cumulative effects of quotas negotiated in various trade agreements signed by the union can ultimately destabilise production and the agricultural sector,” the four European leaders warned.

“In addition, due to the vulnerability of those sectors, we would seek reassurances in order to strictly monitor and mitigate the possible negative impact on the agricultural sectors,” they added.

We also need to ensure policy coherence between the EU’s trade policy objectives and its climate change responsibilities, by ensuring that beef and other meat imports fully respect the EU’s environmental norms and standards.

In other EU news, the European Council has proposed German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen as replacement for Juncker as European Commission president.

Michel, von der Leyen and the other nominees for the EU’s highest-ranking position will now have to be ratified by the European Parliament before being formally appointed.