The Irish Farmers Journal understands that the European Commission has decided to remove beef imports from its proposed trade deal with South American Mercosur countries.
A Commission source said that the proposed tariff-rate quota for 78,000t of beef would be removed from the draft offer expected to be sent to Mercosur next week as trade negotiations open with the bloc of South American countries.
The college of European commissioners met on Wednesday and the source said that the decision was made after 14 EU member states expressed concern at the proposal.
Sensitivity of beef
The current situation of agricultural markets and the sensitivity of the beef industry are understood to be the key factors in the Commission’s decision to leave beef out of the initial phase of talks.
Farm organisations have lobbied hard against the prospect of large-scale cheap beef imports from South America, where production standards are reported to be less strict than in Europe.
The ICSA said it was manifestly opposed to the deal and held a protest outside the Commission’s Dublin office on Wednesday, chanting: “Slam the door on Mercosur.”