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MEPs Vote Against EU/Mercosur Trade Talks

10 March 2011

EU - When negotiating international trade agreements, the European Commission must stop making concessions that can adversely affect European farmers, says a European Parliament resolution approved on Tuesday. MEPs warn of the effects of the trade talks with Mercosur and criticise the recent agreement with Morocco.

The Commission's approach to trade negotiations with third countries is criticised in a non-legislative resolution drafted by Georgios Papastamkos (EPP, EL). MEPs urge the Commission not to make concessions to gain access to third country markets at the expense of the EU agricultural sector.

EU farm production guarantees food security and quality, contend MEPs. They want the EU's high standards on the environment, animal and plant welfare and health to be applied to imported goods to guarantee fair competition and protect consumers. An impact assessment should be carried out before any negotiations begin, they say. Parliament must be properly involved in trade negotiations, which has not happened in the case of talks with Canada and Ukraine that began in October 2009: no information has yet been provided to MEPs, states the resolution.

An "extremely generous offer" on agriculture was made by the EU in the framework of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) but was not reciprocated by equivalent concessions, says Parliament. It therefore asks the Commission to avoid making proposals that would pre-empt decisions on the Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2013.

The Commission should always ensure "symmetrical tariff concessions" when discussing free trade agreements, especially if with countries with strong agricultural sectors, such as Mercosur, believe MEPs.

Parliament strongly criticises the Commission for resuming negotiations with Mercosur without discussing the matter with Council. It also expresses serious concern about the impact on the EU farm sector of a trade agreement with Mercosur. It calls on the Commission to protect farmers' interests and put forward an impact assessment on the effect of such an agreement, to be debated, before the talks are finalised.

The recent EU-Morocco agreement is also not balanced, believes Parliament: while European markets have been almost completely opened up, exports to Morocco, for some products, are still subject to quotas.

The resolution was adopted by show of hands.

Irish Farmers Association (IFA) President John Bryan said, “This is a strong message to the Commission by members of the European Parliament that they have gone too far with the Mercosur negotiations, and have failed to properly consult the EU Council or the democratically-elected Parliament.”

The IFA President said the overnight protest by livestock farmers at the Commission offices in Dublin and today’s decision by the Parliament showed that there is very strong opposition to the EU/Mercosur trade negotiations and the damaging impact on agriculture.

Further Reading

- Go to our previous news item on this story by clicking here.

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