Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Questions (402)

Pat Deering

Question:

402. Deputy Pat Deering asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the status of the situation regarding Mercosur; and if a deal will be completed in the coming months. [51789/18]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The EU Mercusor negotiations have not progressed sufficiently to conclude any sort of agreement. From an Irish perspective we have been very consistent in urging caution in the approach to these negotiations. 

Apart from beef, I understand that there are issues in relation to access to the Mercosur market with respect to cars and rules of origin, geographical indications, maritime services and market access for dairy.

Our position has been reiterated many times, for example by myself and by my colleague, Minister Andrew Doyle, at Council of Agriculture Ministers meetings, and by other Ministers in the relevant EU Trade policy fora. It has also been done through direct contacts with Commissioners Hogan and Malmstroem, and by the Taoiseach at European Council and through his own direct contacts, including with Commission President Jean Claude Juncker and French President Emmanuel Macron. I have also been working closely with Member State colleagues in this regard, and have remained in close contact with Commissioner Hogan on the matter.

I am aware that there is a meeting of Chief Negotiators for a further round of talks from 10-13 December 2018, in Montevideo. I will continue to remain in close contact with European Commission counterparts and with Member State colleagues, to reinforce Ireland's concerns. 

In an overall sense there is undoubtedly a need for continued vigilance in relation to the conduct of these trade negotiations, and 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.