European leaders have outlined concerns over the Mercosur trade deal’s impact on agricultural industries as it enters its final stages.
The leaders of Ireland, France, Poland and Belgium have written to EU Commission President Jean- Claude Juncker about their ‘deep concern’ over the Mercosur deal.
And the European poultry industry flagged concerns over Brazilian access in the deal.
The letter, signed by Leo Varadkar, leader of Ireland’s Fine Gael party, French President Emmanuel Macron, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, warned the beef quotas would hit the EU markets.
The letter also called for the quotas currently mentioned for beef, poultry, pork, sugar and ethanol must not be increased further, and for guarantees on standards.
AVEC, the body representing the European poultry meat sector, sounded alarm bells, saying it was one of the sectors which would be ‘sacrificed’ in negotiations, with significant additional quantities of breast meat forecast to be granted to Mercosur.
It called on the EU to reject any agreement which would jeopardise the future of the sector.
Brazil was the largest poultry meat exporter in the world, exporting about 500,000 tonnes of poultry meat to the EU each year.
It said this was despite audits in 2013 and 2017 highlighting ‘critical deficiencies in the respect of EU rules for Brazilian exports’.
It added European producers had invested time and energy to comply with high EU standards.
An AVEC spokesperson said: “Therefore, rewarding Brazil with significant additional quotas to export poultry meat to the EU is totally unacceptable.
“Especially when there is evident proof from the EU Commission services themselves the Brazilians do not comply with these high standards.”
AVEC highlighted the impact on the economy, with more than 300,000 people working in the sector and any job losses having significant impacts on rural areas.
The spokesperson added: “For all these reasons, it is impossible to accept any concessions on poultry meat in the Mercosur free trade agreement negotiation.”