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Coughlan calls for realism in WTO negotiations

Speaking in Luxembourg today at the Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting, the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Mary Coughlan T.D., said that while Ireland, like most Member States is committed to the WTO multilateral trading system, the European Union should not be bounced into concluding a deal which is unbalanced and does not respect the important role of agriculture within the EU or the changed circumstances which prevail in relation to global food shortages and food security.

"We need to inject some realism into the discussions. We cannot allow European agriculture to be sacrificed for the sake of an unbalanced deal" the Minister said.

Outlining the changed circumstances in relation to food scarcity and food security the Minister said that mounting concerns in Europe and the world on these issues makes the CAP more important than ever. She said the EU must safe-guard its production base so that it can meet the future demand of its population for food, feed and bioenergy.

Speaking on another item on the Council agenda the Minister noted the enormous food security challenge now facing low income food deficit countries. "Ireland is committed to working closely with our partner Governments, multi-lateral agencies and humanitarian organisations to develop effective mechanisms and supports that proactively prevent persistent food shortages becoming famines in parallel to longer-term development programmes".

Minister Coughlan met with a number of her ministerial colleagues including the French Minister for Agriculture, Michel Barnier on the margins of the meeting and she expressed satisfaction with the strong line which many of her colleagues are taking in search of a balanced WTO deal which respects the important role which EU agriculture plays in the production of safe food to the highest standards, respecting animal health and welfare as well as environmental concerns.

Date Released: 14 April 2008