Attending Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Luxembourg, Minister of State of Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, T.D., took the opportunity to reiterate Ireland's concerns in relation to the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations, and to discuss the latest position with counterparts from Poland and Hungary, at what could be a pivotal time in the process.
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Ahead of his comments in the course of the Council, Minister Doyle was happy to note the shared concerns of Polish Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski and Hungarian Minister Istvan Nagy in relation to recent developments, which have given rise to speculation about the possibility of an agreement being reached in the short-term.
He said: “Ireland’s concerns about the potential impact of a Mercosur agreement on the EU agriculture sector, and particularly on the beef sector, are well-known.
“These concerns have been heightened recently, and so today was a very useful opportunity to discuss the situation with like-minded Member States, and to renew our shared conviction that no further concessions should be made by the EU in these negotiations.”
Minister Doyle noted that discussions continue a process of intensified engagement by Ireland in recent days with other Member State counterparts and with the European Commission.
His colleague, Minister Michael Creed, in addition to his ongoing contacts with Commissioner Hogan, recently wrote formally to the Commissioner to reiterate Ireland’s position, and he will have further discussions with his French counterpart on the margins of this week’s African Union-European Union Ministerial Conference in Rome.
The Government has also co-signed a letter to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with France, Poland and Belgium on the matter.
Minister Heather Humphreys has also formally written to Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.
Concluding on Mercosur, Minister Doyle said: “Ireland acknowledges and appreciates the co-operation to date of Member State colleagues who share our concerns.
“It is vital that we continue to work together to defend the position of the EU agriculture sector, and the beef sector in particular.
“My Hungarian and Polish colleagues were very much on the same page as Ireland.
“We will continue to work closely together, and with other Member States, over the coming period, and to do all we can to ensure that these negotiations are handled in a manner that safeguards the interests of the European agriculture sector, and the beef sector in particular.” ■