No deal on Brexit must mean no deal on Mercosur if the European Commission was to deliver on its commitment to put Ireland first in negotiations.
That was the warning from the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) as it highlighted removing the UK market would be producing more beef than it had the market for.
IFA president Joe Healy called on EU Commission president Jean-Claude Junker and Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan to ensure there was no Mercosur deal on beef while Brexit remained ‘unsorted’.
He said: “In view of the lack of progress on Brexit and our critical dependence on the UK market for beef exports, the EU cannot agree to increased beef imports from Mercosur.
“Increasing EU beef imports makes no sense whatsoever and the EU Commission should instruct Cecilia Malmstrom [EU Trade Commissioner] to withdraw beef from the Mercosur negotiations.”
IFA National livestock chairman Angus Woods added the latest report from the EU Food and Veterinary Office on Brazil showed they continued to fail to meet EU standards on beef imports.
On last week’s meeting of the Prime Minister and her Cabinet at Chequers, Mr Healy said while there were some ‘signs of movement’ there was a ‘generous helping of double-think by the UK in wanting to have their cake and eat it, which is unacceptable’.
He said the proposals would allow the UK to open the floodgates to cheap imports, destroying the UK market for Irish farmers and wreaking havoc across the EU. And he believed it was inconsistent with the UK commitment to maintain full alignment with rules which support the all-island economy and the Good Friday Agreement.
He acknowledged the UK offering to make an ‘upfront choice to commit by treaty to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules’ was a positive step, but said there was no value in a commitment if parliament could opt out.
He said the IFA position was no border on the island of Ireland or the Irish Sea and no scope for a UK cheap food policy.