The European Commission has rejected claims that the agreement between the EU and the US on beef trade is a "backdoor arrangement" or a "sweetheart deal".

The agreement was announced on Sunday, August 4, and will see 35,000t of hormone-free beef allocated to the US as part of a tariff rate quota.

Today, August 9, a spokesperson for the European Commission said that the criticisms of this deal "demonstrate a fundamental misunderstanding of what has been agreed".

The spokesperson said that a "convenient but misleading association" was being made between this agreement and the EU-Mercosur trade agreement was being made.

“The reality is that this agreement is no more than a solution to a longstanding dispute in the WTO [World Trade Organisation] going back to the 1990s, and replaces an interim solution reached in 2009," the spokesperson argued.

It was explained that, in 2018, EU member states voted in favour of starting negotiations for such a deal.

The negotiations were concluded on February 27 this year, and includes a provision to "ring fence" a 35,000t tariff rate quota for hormone-free beef imports from the US.

"The essential point is that not one single additional tonne of beef will be imported to the EU as a result of this deal," the spokesperson stressed.

The satisfactory conclusion of these negotiations brings a 30 year-old trade dispute to an end and, with that, the end of any threat of US retaliatory action, which might have had a negative impact on EU agri-food products.

Meanwhile, Phil Hogan, European Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, insisted that beef imports from South America that did not meet EU standards would be returned to the country of origin.

"The EU insists on the strict application of sanitary standards in the interests of both EU producers and consumers. This is the case today and will continue to be the case in the future," added the commissioner.