Agricultural access to the EU market must never be a deal sweetener to get agreements in other sectors over the line, Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West Chris MacManus has said.
MacManus was speaking this week following a European Parliament agriculture committee meeting where he asked the European Commission if it was planning to allow increased beef imports from New Zealand.
“I took the opportunity at today’s meeting to directly ask the European Commission whether it intended to deliver another blow to Irish farmers, in the form of an increased quota for New Zealand beef arriving into the EU.
“Free-trade talks are ramping up between the EU and New Zealand and agricultural concessions are top of the agenda for New Zealand’s negotiators.
“In response to my question, the Commission would only say they are aware of the sensitivities around beef and lamb.
“The Commission’s refusal to rule out an increased beef quota for New Zealand will come as very worrying news to the farmers I represent,” he said.
Last month, IFA sheep chair Seán Dennehy said that it would be madness given the political climate in terms of Brexit for EU negotiators to make any offer to New Zealand at this time in the EU-NZ trade negotiations.
Dennehy said New Zealand is only filling about half of its existing 228,254t quota on sheepmeat into the EU in recent years.
“There is no basis to increase the New Zealand tariff rate quota on sheepmeat. Any attempt to do so can only be interpreted by European sheep farmers as a sell-out or a sacrifice of the sector for benefits in other trade areas,” he said.
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