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Minister Coughlan and new French Minister speak on WTO

The Minister for Agriculture and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., today spoke with her new French counterpart Christine Largarde about the world trade talks and other matters. Madame Largarde is the Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries in the new French Government recently appointed by President Sarkozy. She was formerly Minister for Trade.

"We discussed a number of issues of key importance to the future of agriculture and the food industry in both countries" said Minister Coughlan. On the crucial WTO talks, Minister Coughlan said she stressed the importance of ensuring a positive and balanced outcome to the talks which did not sacrifice EU agricultural interests. Minister Largarde fully shared this position. "France and Ireland have played a leading role within the EU in promoting the cause of European agriculture and we agreed that this will remain the case" said Minister Coughlan. The discussions in WTO have now reached an important phase with further significant developments being widely predicted for later this month.

"At this time, it is vital we ensure that like-minded European countries work closely together, and I am very happy from my discussion with Minister Lagarde that Ireland and France will continue to do so on WTO and other key agricultural policy issues."

Both Ministers agreed to continue their discussions, and further co-ordinate their national positions at a meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday in Luxembourg. Minister Coughlan said that France and Ireland were working with a group of EU Member States who recognised the significance of the reforms in the Common Agricultural Policy in recent years and were agreed on the need to keep to the WTO negotiating mandate agreed by the Council. "We are fully committed to an ambitious and balanced outcome to the trade negotiations. However having undertaken CAP reform in preparation for the trade negotiations, we are determined that European agriculture will not pay twice for a deal" she said. "The EU has made a very generous offer and it is now for others to respond. The process cannot be allowed to become a one-way street".

Minister Coughlan said she looked forward to hearing from the Commission, and re-stating her own views on this issue, at next week's Council meeting.

6 June, 2007

Date Released: 06 June 2007