French officials have said they will propose changes to the EU commission's mandate for Mercosur negotiations, with the aim of including food safety provisions, as reported by http://en.mercopress.com.
This was the word from Michel Miraillet, French Ambassador, who said there is a real concern over food safety after the recent Brazilian meat scandals. This including the many bribes reported having been taken by inspectors from Brazilian meatpackers.
Mr. Miraillet said he anticipates that at least 5 countries in the EU will back their plan and said the 1999 mandate is in need of serious modifications. French farmers have put the government under pressure recently, to prevent competition in the markets from cheaper South American produce, especially meats.
President Emmanuel Macron spoke last week on the issue and said he is in no hurry to conclude trade negotiations by the end of the year, though said he will raise the issue with fellow EU leaders next week..
“I am not in favor of hurrying to conclude before the end of the year trade negotiations for which the mandate was given in 1999,” Macron said.
Another European diplomat, who wished to remain anonymous, said this is merely a delay tactic by the French, while Brazilian diplomats say it is an attempt to intimidate Mercosur. Mercosur countries are seeking improved terms should they open their markets to the Mercosur bloc. They say this is necessary should they want the deal to be concluded by the end of 2017.
They want EU markets open to both beef and ethanol, though the EU has currently offered allowances for 70,000 tonnes of beef and 600,000 tonnes of ethanol to enter the EU, with reduced imports duties. The offer has been described “disappointing” by the Mercosur bloc negotiators.
The bloc had hoped allowances for up to 300,000 tonnes of beef to be made, though they were willing to accept as little as 140,000 tonnes. The quota of 70,000 tonnes of beef is the same offer, made by the EU before negotiations stalled. Mercosur argues that its target merely represents 140 grams of beef per EU capita.
The European Commission says they have to balance the interests of all their members pushing for the trade deal. They added that France, Ireland, Poland, and Belgium are concerned over future quantities of agricultural imports from Mercosur, providing extra competition.
The next negotiation round between Europe and Mercosur is set to commence on November 6th and is expected to run until November 10th. Another round of negotiations could also be in the pipeline, possible by December.