France warned Tuesday that it is following closely European Union/Mercosur trade talks to ensure that farmers from both blocks are strictly subjected to the same rules.
“If we want a fair trade deal between the EU and Mercosur, this can’t be done turning the back on European farmers; it must be done based on a strict reciprocity of rules so that they are equally implemented on both sides”, warned French Agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire during a meeting with the press at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
The EU and Mercosur in May 2010 resumed talks to reach a wide ranging trade and cooperation agreement following years of stagnation precisely because of differences related to agriculture and the services sector, among other issues.
Mercosur is pushing for a greater access for its produce to the European market, but France and several other countries (Ireland, Spain, Poland, etc) highly dependent on agriculture, fear consequences for their farmers.
EU farmers’ unions have been involved in intensive lobbying and aggressive protests to get their position listened.
Last week the EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht during a visit to Paraguay and Uruguay to advance negotiations repeated that the EU was “ready to reach an agreement” with Mercosur, “the moment is right and so is the political will”.
Mercosur and EU negotiators are scheduled to hold a meeting in March and later in Asunción, before the Mercosur summit to be hosted by Paraguay, which currently holds the rotating chair of the South American group.
Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay are Mercosur full members, Chile and Bolivia, associate members and Venezuela in the process of incorporation as full member.