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WTO proposals would have serious consequences for EU and Irish Farmers – Ó Caoláin

17 April, 2008


Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, speaking in the Dáil today on a Private Members' motion on the WTO proposals said the proposals by the Trade Commissioner to open up the EU to increased food imports, if accepted, will have massive and detrimental consequences for EU Farmers.

Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to call on Irish Farmers and their representative organisations to seriously consider the implications of further centralisation and diminution of sovereignty proposed in the Lisbon Treaty will have in the future.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "I begin by recording that I fully support the sentiments expressed in the motion tabled by Fine Gael and concur with the concerns being expressed right across the farming sector at the implications which the WTO negotiations might have on Irish agriculture.

"The proposals by the Trade Commissioner to open up the EU to increased food imports, if accepted, will have massive and detrimental consequences for EU farmers. Some of these are set out in the motion and the farming groups have provided further details on how the beef and other sectors will be undermined.

"The ICSA has also made the valid point that increasing imports and thereby reducing food production within the EU could have serious long term implications for food security if European farmers are forced out of business and Europe becomes dangerously dependent on food imports.

"Any deal of the sort currently on the table would also undermine the EU's stated commitment to preserving the European Model of farming, based on family farms. That is one of the stated objectives of the Common Agricultural Policy. If those farms are made unviable then the entire basis of CAP will be undermined.

"It is also interesting and significant that the leaked memo from the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the date of the referendum on Lisbon cited concerns over the WTO as one of the factors to be taken into consideration. Obviously the concern is that if Irish farmers feel that their interests are being damaged by Mandelson's stance at the negotiations that they might not support the proposal.

Irish farmers are absolutely right to be concerned at the trade policy objectives pursued by the EU Commission at the WTO negotiations. I would urge the farming and agriculture industries to consider the fact that the Lisbon Treaty will further empower the Commission to pursue such policy. This is a stark reality." ENDS

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