Thursday, 30 May 2019
Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine
109. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the Mercosur talks; if beef will not form part of a final agreement; if the European Commission has indicated it will offer additional beef access to Mercosur countries greater than the 70,000 tonnes that was signed off at EU level in October 2017; and if he will not support a final deal that has beef as a component. [23163/19]
The EU-Mercosur trade negotiations are ongoing. Ireland's position in relation to these negotiations is well-known, and has not changed. We have consistently opposed any agreement that would have negative consequences for the Irish and EU agriculture sectors, and for the beef sector in particular.
Under these negotiations, the EU made an offer to Mercosur of a beef Tariff Rate Quota of 70,000 tonnes in October 2017. Ireland objected strenuously to this development, consistent with the approach which it has taken for many years, and we have continued to work closely with other Member States, and with the European Commission, to ensure that no further concessions are made by the EU in relation to beef market access.
As regards recent developments in these talks, an intersessional round of discussions took place in Buenos Aires in the week beginning 13 May 2019, but no date has yet been set for the next formal round of negotiations.
In an overall sense, there is undoubtedly a need for continued vigilance in relation to the conduct of these trade negotiations. I will continue to insist that they are handled appropriately, and in a manner that safeguards the interests of the Irish and European beef sector. I also continue to stress that full account must be taken of the findings of the Commission’s own assessment of the cumulative impact of trade deals on the agri food sector, and the potentially very damaging impact of Brexit on an already delicately balanced EU beef market.