Written answers

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Beef Industry

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the discussions he has had to date with EU Trade Commissioner de Gucht in relation to the EU/Canadian trade negotiations in view of the absolute need to protect the European beef market in view of the importance of the beef sector to the economy here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [57683/12]

Photo of Simon CoveneySimon Coveney (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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I contacted Commissioner De Gucht last month to draw his attention to the very serious concerns I have regarding the EU/Canadian trade negotiations, and, in particular, the issue of market access for beef. This follows a constant series of interventions dating back to April of this year, both written and oral, at official and political level with the Directorates for Trade and for Agriculture of the European Commission.

Ireland’s main concerns are two-fold. First we object to the fact that Canada refuses to accept OIE standards in this instance and will not allow access for EU beef while at the same time it expects that we will grant large quotas to it. Second we have major concerns with the reported size and composition of these quotas.

On the issue of principle, Ireland has consistently asked that the Canadian side respect International standards, as many other countries do, in relation to market access for beef. We have indicated in our submissions to the Commission that this is a stumbling block for Ireland. We do not think it unreasonable to expect Canada to acknowledge this in the context of the negotiations. To be constructive, we have suggested that any agreement should include a standstill clause or moratorium on the activation of any beef quotas such that there will be no activation of quotas until Canada allows market access for EU beef.

As regards the size and composition of any quota, I have suggested that any quota must respect the sensitivity of the EU market in relation to high value cuts and not the totality of the EU beef market. Essentially this means that any quota must be limited in size and must take account of the segmentation of the EU market for beef between high value cuts and other beef – used primarily for manufacturing.

These are not the only concerns I have in regard to these negotiations. I am also anxious that we secure reasonable market access for EU dairy products to the Canadian market. Moreover, the current offers regarding fisheries are not satisfactory in my view and there are outstanding difficulties too regarding the recognition by Canada at sub-national level of certain geographical indications for spirits. As these negotiations proceed, I will continue to press all of these points vigorously with the Commission and with other Member States.


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