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Doyle urges continued caution on EU-Mercosur negotiations

- Progress on CAP and Fisheries Negotiations noted at Council Meeting -

Attending today's Council of Agriculture and Fisheries Ministers in Luxembourg, Minister of State of Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Andrew Doyle, T.D., took the opportunity to reiterate Ireland's concerns in relation to the EU-Mercosur trade negotiations, and to discuss the latest position with counterparts from Poland and Hungary, at what could be a pivotal time in the process.

Ahead of his comments in the course of the Council, Minister Doyle was happy to note the shared concerns of Polish Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski and Hungarian Minister Istvan Nagy in relation to recent developments, which have given rise to speculation about the possibility of an agreement being reached in the short-term. He said: “Ireland’s concerns about the potential impact of a Mercosur agreement on the EU agriculture sector, and particularly on the beef sector, are well-known. These concerns have been heightened recently, and so today was a very useful opportunity to discuss the situation with like-minded Member States, and to renew our shared conviction that no further concessions should be made by the EU in these negotiations.”

Minister Doyle noted that today’s discussions continue a process of intensified engagement by Ireland in recent days with other Member State counterparts and with the European Commission. His colleague, Minister Michael Creed, in addition to his ongoing contacts with Commissioner Hogan, recently wrote formally to the Commissioner to reiterate Ireland’s position, and he will have further discussions with his French counterpart on the margins of this week’s African Union-European Union Ministerial Conference in Rome. The Government has also today co-signed a letter to Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker with France, Poland and Belgium on the matter. Minister Heather Humphreys has also formally written to Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem.

 

Concluding on Mercosur, Minister Doyle said: “Ireland acknowledges and appreciates the co-operation to date of Member State colleagues who share our concerns. It is vital that we continue to work together to defend the position of the EU agriculture sector, and the beef sector in particular. My Hungarian and Polish colleagues were very much on the same page as Ireland today. We will continue to work closely together, and with other Member States, over the coming period, and to do all we can to ensure that these negotiations are handled in a manner that safeguards the interests of the European agriculture sector, and the beef sector in particular.”

 

Speaking after today’s Council, which was the last under the stewardship of the Romanian Presidency, Minister Doyle also welcomed the progress made by the Presidency on the European Commission's proposals for the CAP post-2020, as well as those for the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund, although he noted in particular the need for considerable further technical work to be carried out on the CAP files before an agreed position can be reached by the Council.

 

On CAP, the Minister said: “The Romanian Presidency has done a fine job in moving the CAP reform proposals forward over the last six months. A lot of ground has been covered, and its Progress Report today reflects not just the areas in which progress has been made, but also those aspects that still require considerable further work before the Council can arrive at an agreed position. Other factors are also at play, including the negotiations on the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework and the position that will be adopted by the new European Parliament. Nevertheless, the Progress Report represents a good basis on which to continue the work, and I wish the Finnish Presidency, under the guidance of Minister Jari Lepp┬┐, every success in this regard over the coming months.”

 

On fisheries matters, Minister Doyle welcomed the progress on the new European Maritime, Fisheries and Aquaculture Fund, the final outcome of which will be subject to negotiations with the European Parliament in the autumn. Minister Doyle said “I am satisfied that the agreed text will support the continued sustainable development of our fishing and aquaculture sectors on which the livelihoods of coastal communities dependent on fishing are fully dependent.”

 

There was also a preliminary discussion on fishing opportunities for 2020.  Minister Doyle said that “2020 will come with a number of challenges not least the objective of reaching maximum sustainable yield and the ongoing implementation of the landing obligation. Ireland will, in consultation with our industry and other stakeholders play a full part in the discussions to come to provide balanced and sustainable fishing opportunities for our fleets.”

 

ENDSMinister Doyle at Agrifish council June 2019 with Polish MinisterMinister Doyle at Agrifish council June 2019 with Hungarian Minister

Date Released: 18 June 2019