We often call for economic impact studies and some real analysis of policy change at EU level. Therefore, when it comes we need to distill the results down and understand the consequences.

The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission’s science and knowledge service.

The JRC employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.

Reading its latest results on the cumulative impact of trade deals (some completed and some in progress) shows limited improvements for some EU agri-food exports, and reinforces the concerns for sensitive sectors. Food and farming is a sensitive sector.

Long story short, the JRC message is that for a country like Ireland, it could see a drop in beef and sheep prices due to EU trade deals. EU farmers might live with that if they were rewarded for even higher quality standards.

However, if the specification of the product entering the EU is not at the same standard, it makes fools of farmers’ efforts at sustainability and quality, and that is core to current ongoing protests.

Speaking recently in Belgium, former EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan spoke openly about his thoughts on how trade deals financially benefit the EU as a whole.

He did say that some member states were imposing too many local additional measures, and that the terms of some of the ongoing trade deals were unbalanced.

As a small food producing nation in western Europe, we are vulnerable, particularly with our near neighbours completing their own trade deals. Food for thought.