European Parliament discusses impact of U.S. Trade deal on Agriculture - In Private! - Carthy
The Sinn Féin MEP for the Midlands North West, Matt Carthy, has warned that Irish farmers need to be extremely concerned about the potential negative impact that EU trade deals with the USA, Canada and Mercosur countries could have on Agriculture.
Mr. Carthy was speaking following a meeting of the European Parliament's Agriculture & Rural Development committee held a hearing with senior EU Commission negotiators on the EU-US trade deal known as TTIP (Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Bizarrely, the meeting was held 'in committee' and MEPs were warned that they could not report on the issues discussed.
Speaking after the dialogue Matt Carthy Carthy said,
"Although I welcome Tuesday exchange with senior Commission negotiators, the proviso that this meeting would be held in camera, with access only for MEPs and certain officials, reflects the ongoing secretive and undemocratic nature of the trade talks. When questioned about why these negotiations were closed to the public, the officials' only response was that this was how the Commission had always operated, completely ignoring the specificities of this agreement for agricultural markets.
"A recently published study by The German Advisory Council on the Environment (SRU) warns of serious deficiencies in the handling of environmental issues, as well the erosion of democracy.
"The SRU, which advises the German Government, warns about the status of EU legislation on cosmetics, the use of chemicals, cloning of animals and GMOs. The precautionary principle, which has been an integral part of EU food safety response since the BSE crisis has no equivalent in the US and has yet to emerge in TTIP discussions.
"Additionally, a recently released US Department of Agriculture (USDA) study conducted by top economists at the US Governmental Department suggests that US exports will rise by 2% while EU agricultural exports decrease by 0.25% under a finalised TTIP deal.
"The study also estimates that US gains will continue to rise as certain non-tariff measures by the EU are increasingly restricted or abolished, leaving meat products particularly highly vulnerable.
"Despite the losses for the EU, the projected gains for the US, in terms of the reduced standards of health and safety of imports and elimination of agricultural tariffs, are hardly surprising.
"This week EU Agricultural Ministers met in Brussels to discuss the high volatility in agricultural markets and as a result agreed a series of reactive measures. Statements made by Agricultural Commissioner Hogan that such measures would be temporary, seem paradoxical alongside negotiations for an agreement that, confirmed by the USDA, will likely plunge EU markets even further into crisis.
"These are matters of public importance; however the public are being denied access. It is time that the current Irish government, and whatever administration emerges in coming weeks, realised the hugely negative impact that TTIP and other trade deals could have on our Farming sector and stand up against the TTIP agenda."