The Government has been called on to intervene with the European Commission from making an offer to the Mercosur bloc in the context of renewed trade negotiations, by the meat processors.

The Irish and EU meat sectors will suffer under the Mercosur trade deal, according to Meat Industry Ireland, the body representing Irish meat processors.

Director of MII, Cormac Healy, has said that the body understands from Brussels that the Commission is about to make a new offer to Mercosur which will include substantial import quota concessions on meat from the South American countries.

“This has the potential to have a major destabilising effect on the EU beef market in particular but also raises real concerns for the pigmeat and poultry sectors,” Healy said.

The MII Director said that a renewed offer by the EU to Mercosur is completely unjustified given that the European Commission has undertaken, at the request of Member States, to carry out an impact assessment on the cumulative impact of all ongoing trade negotiations on the EU agri-food sector and this will not be completed until after the summer.

Therefore, making a new offer now, in these long drawn out negotiations with Mercosur is completely inappropriate.

Furthermore, Healy said that MII has continuously pointed out that the potential of the EU beef market to absorb extra volumes of duty-free imports has been significantly decreased in recent years.

This is given that internal beef consumption has fallen by 500,000t, he said and that medium term forecasts on consumption recovery remain weak.

“The urgency of this matter is such that the Taoiseach needs to intervene with President Junker to stop a new ‘give-away’ offer being made and at an absolute minimum to ensure that offers are not made on sensitive products such as meat.”