By using this website, you consent to our use of cookies. For more information on cookies see our privacy policy page.

Text Size: a a
Home A-Z Index Subscribe/RSS Contact Us Twitter logo small white bird

Coughlan calls on Farm Council and EU Commission to protect Agriculture at up-coming WTO talks

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan TD, said today that she was totally opposed to any further concessions on agriculture by the EU at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Geneva next week.

Speaking at the Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting in Luxembourg, the Minister stressed that the offer of 28 October was not only conditional but was at the limit of the EU's negotiating position. There was no further room to manoeuvre and that no further concession should be offered which would necessitate another reform of the CAP. She called on her Council colleagues and the EU Commissioner to continue to protect EU agriculture and the CAP in the negotiations. There was general support at Council for the position adopted by the Minister.

"I am committed to the successful conclusion of these (WTO) negotiations but not at the price of further concessions in agriculture. The EU has already made significant contributions to the agriculture negotiations. There must be a balanced outcome across all sectors of the negotiations and EU Agriculture must not be sacrificed for an agreement," she said.

The Minister said that the current EU offer was conditional on appropriate movement by other WTO negotiating partners in the areas of Agriculture, Non-Agriculture Market Access (NAMA) and Services. She added that even if appropriate movement is achieved in these areas, which has not been achieved to date, it does not mean the EU should offer further concessions in agriculture. Such concessions would unbalance the negotiations further, exceed the mandate and require a further reform of the CAP.

"We have vital interests to defend in relation to Domestic Supports, Export Subsidies, Market Access and Non-Trade Concerns. In the Market Access negotiations, I am very concerned that the Chairman of the WTO Agriculture Committee appears to be favouring the G20 market access proposals as being the compromise to which WTO members must move towards. This outcome would have very serious consequences for the future of EU agriculture and would be unacceptable."

Minister Coughlan restated that Ireland's priorities are to:

  • resist further concessions on Market Access, especially tariff cuts in order to secure adequate protection for sensitive product and to retain an effective Safeguard Clause;
  • defend direct payments to farmers against reduction;
  • ensure flexibility in phasing out export subsidies and to demand full parallel treatment for elimination of all forms of export subsidy;
  • ensure that Non-Trade Concerns are taken into account in a new agreement.

The Minister said that she remains determined to achieve a satisfactory outcome to the negotiations from Ireland's point of view. She has already held bilateral discussions with a number of like-minded Member States - Poland, Spain and Hungary. The Minster said that later in the week she would be meeting her Italian and French colleagues in order to urge them to continue to defend the EU position and to formulate a common approach at the forthcoming Geneva talks.

19 June, 2006

Date Released: 19 June 2006