The European Commission should have completed an updated sustainability impact assessment (SIA) before the EU-Mercosur trade deal was agreed, an inquiry by European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly has found.

The Ombudsman’s inquiry followed a complaint by five civil society organisations, which were concerned that the Commission conducted the trade negotiations without an up-to-date assessment of its potential economic, social, human rights and environmental impact.

Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association (ICMSA) president Pat McCormack said the Ombudsman’s conclusion is completely damning of the Commission’s approach and methodology.

“The contradictions and sheer recklessness of the premise itself were always going to ensure that it would run aground when it was subjected to any kind of sensible and logical examination.

“The Ombudsman is saying is that the sheer scale of the contradictions was so apparent so early that the conclusion of the agreement must be considered as maladministration on the part of the Commission.”

Incalculable damage

The ICMSA has said Ireland must insist that the European Commission responds to the Ombudsman’s report and that it publishes its response.

“The principal way that the EU projects its beliefs and principles is by insisting that states or blocs with which it trades abide by similar principles in respect of issues like climate change and the need to safeguard the global environment,” McCormack continued.

“Even the appearance that this was not the basis on which Mercosur was negotiated or concluded does incalculable damage to the idea that the Commission is fit to do this work.”

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EU accused of ‘maladministration’ on Mercosur deal by Ombudsman