Liam Aylward, MEP for Ireland East and Member of the European Parliament Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, has urged European farmers not to lose focus during the current CAP negotiations on the dangers posed by the European Commission’s drive to agree a Mercosur Trade Agreement.

Speaking in the European Parliament yesterday during a debate with the European Commission on the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement, the Ireland East MEP was vocal in his opposition to the Commission’s actions in this regard:

“Farmers’ main focus at present is on the reform of the CAP and the implications of the changes post 2014. The defence of the CAP budget is focused around the importance of delivering on food security for European consumers and the environmental added value of European agriculture. However, against this background the European Commission is still proposing to push ahead with a trade deal which will devastate European agriculture.”

Mr Aylward also reminded the Parliament that the European Commission’s own Impact Assessment concluded that European farmers and agriculture will experience heavy losses under a Mercosur Trade Deal, yet the Commission is committed to sacrificing them in the interest of manufacturing gains.

The Impact Assessment focused mainly on two scenarios; the 2004 bilateral trade offer made by the EU and the 2006 offer made by the Mercosur block. Both models project EU agricultural producers losing income in all scenarios.

“The results demonstrate clearly that the economic losses and the adjustment pressures arising from a bilateral trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur would fall heavily on the agriculture sector. The simulations show that, as far as agriculture is concerned, there are significant losses to EU producers and gains to Mercosur producers in all scenarios,” said Mr Aylward.

“Aside from the economic aspect and the security of a food supply which European farmers deliver, farming and agriculture are integral to rural communities and the rural way of life. There is no quantifiable way of measuring the impact the Mercosur Trade Deal would have on rural communities and the family centric farming model in Ireland.

“The Commission state that the gains made in the manufacturing sector would outweigh the losses to the EU agri-food sector. However, it is estimated that 33,000 EU farm jobs could be lost due to the immediate and knock on effects of this deal.”

With Ireland currently holding the Presidency of the European Council, Mr Aylward added that Ireland must use all avenues available to block this disastrous deal for Irish farmers.

“There is no room for complacency among European leaders on this issue and the Irish Presidency must show leadership and represent the interests of the Irish farmers. The industry is driving economy recovery at home and is the backbone of a vibrant and growing sector.”

The next EU-Mercosur Ministerial Meeting will be held at the end of January 2013 in Santiago, Chile.