Press Release

Mercosur: Copa and Cogeca denounce EU move to increase agriculture offer in Latin American trade talks in exchange for concessions in other EU sectors

As the EU readies itself to step up its offer to the Latin American trade bloc Mercosur, Copa and Cogeca denounced the EU move to improve the beef offer, warning it jeopardises public health and climate change objectives.

Chairman of Copa and Cogeca Beef Working Party Jean-Pierre Fleury said ”The EU has already put a too generous offer on beef in its market access offer to Mercosur and it is now considering raising this offer to include higher quantities of beef. It is scandalous to give European consumers more beef from these countries when the safety standards are not equivalent. Eighty-six percent of our beef imports already come from these countries which do not meet the same quality or traceability standards as us. This potential increase in beef exports from Brazil to the EU is not good news if EU consumers do not want to be exposed to antibiotic residues which are used in these countries and banned in the EU. Since the microbiological tests have been reinstated, 22 lots of beef  from Brazil were seized recently at borders for failing to comply with EU sanitary requirements. The recent food fraud there involved falsification of export certificates for ten years or more”.

“We have consequently presented a set of recommendations to the EU Commission today to improve and broaden the scope of the audits and to publish all information relating to the beef sector which is collected during the next mission to Brazil. MEPs must be included in this mission”, he added.

Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen said “We are back to doing trade agreements in an old fashioned way by making trade-off between other EU economic sectors and the agricultural commodities sector. We need fair and balanced trade agreements which also ensure that our market is not oversupplied. It is absurd that the EU should make substantial concessions on beef, sugar and ethanol when the EU market is not lacking agricultural commodities and we do not know the outcome of the Brexit talks. We have serious concerns too about the inclusion of orange juice. We already import huge volumes from these countries and get no reciprocity from them. The EU cannot sacrifice our trade benefits from agriculture and especially when farmers have not enjoyed higher farmgate prices as a result of this. We cannot allow double standards on the Single Market”.

Wrapping up, he said “Despite the willingness of the EU to be leaders on climate change,  a potential deal with Mercosur would have a negative impact on the climate. Comparing a map of Brazil today to 20 years ago shows the extent of deforestation there due to a sharp increase in agricultural production. This boosts greenhouse gas emissions whilst the EU has cut its emissions by over 20% since 1990”.