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Ferris supports farmers’ opposition to WTO proposals

17 April, 2008

The Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Agriculture, Martin Ferris TD has expressed his full support for this afternoon's protest by farmers against the proposals being put forward by EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson in the forthcoming negotiations at the World Trade Organisation.

Deputy Ferris said: "I am fully behind today's protest and will be discussing the implications which the Mandelson proposals will have when I meet with farmers in Cork today. As I have said previously any move towards weakening the position of European farmers will represent a betrayal of the commitment made at the time of the 2003 reform of the Common Agricultural Policy. Farmers were told then that the reform package would represent the limit of what the EU was prepared to do in dismantling support mechanisms for farming as was being sought by other trading blocs through the WTO.

"The Commission's stance also highlights the fact that the vital interests of a member state such as Ireland can be gravely damaged if it does not have the support of sufficient of the larger states. The implications of this are extremely serious especially at a time when the Lisbon Treaty proposes further diminution of national sovereignty over a wider range of areas.

"The Lisbon Treaty, if passed, will give the European Commission 'exclusive competence' over international trade agreements and will make 'the progressive abolition of restrictions on international trade' a key aim of the EU. All decisions relating to international trade will thereafter be taken by a qualified majority giving larger states a bigger influence on decision making.

"The Lisbon Treaty will give the European Commission the power to accelerate it current approach to international trade as exampled by Peter Mandelson and will remove the ability of the Irish Government to influence negotiations or block the outcome if it is not in our interest.

"Article 9 of the Treaty removes Ireland's right to a European Commissioner for five out of every fifteen years so it is highly likely that we will not even have an Irish voice at the table when trade agreements are being negotiated on our behalf.

"I fully support the farmers' protest against the WTO proposals however I stress that if the Lisbon Treaty is passed the European Commission will have even more powers to accelerate these proposals and no amount of protests will stop them." ENDS

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