Ref. Ares(2018)5838095 - 15/11/2018
Ref. Ares(2019)2108831 - 26/03/2019
Thank you for your letter dated 12 October 2017 on the treatment of beef in EU-Mercosur
free trade negotiations, and please accept our apologies for the delay in replying to you. You
express serious concerns that Mercosur countries do not comply with EU rules related to
traceability, food safety, animal welfare and environment, and you also fear that the EU could
liberalise food safety standards in a future agreement. Let me reassure you unequivocally on
these two points.
The Commission takes very seriously the upholding of EU sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)
standards for imported products. All products placed on the EU market, domestic and
imported, have to comply with EU legislation. An agreement with Mercosur will not provide
any derogation from EU food safety standards for imports from Mercosur and would not
undermine the level of SPS protection or animal welfare in the EU, which are not negotiable.
In addition, some Mercosur countries already cooperate with the EU on animal welfare issues
and we aim, at the very least, to have a specific and detailed reference to collaboration on
animal welfare in the provisions of the agreement. Moreover, the negotiation with Mercosur,
will ensure reinforced cooperation on the enforcement of sanitary and phytosanitary
requirements, as well as on anti-microbial resistance and thereby will strengthen the reference
to EU's societal choices.
I take note of your reservations on the possible impact of those negotiations on the beef sector
in Poland. I would like to reassure you that the Commission has taken and will continue to
take into account the market sensitivity of the European beef industry when conducting
negotiations. At the same time, beef is among the key offensive interests that have clearly
been identified by Mercosur in the negotiations. It is therefore not realistic to expect Mercosur
to agree to conclude a negotiation removing the steep tariff and non-tariff barriers affecting
EU exports in nearly all sectors, including agriculture, without any concession by the EU.
Given the concerns expressed by our farmers, in these negotiations the Commission offers
commitments to provide partial access to Mercosur countries limited to tariff-rate quotas
(TRQs), carefully calibrated on its volumes, in-quota duties and gradual implementation in
order to prevent disturbances to the EU markets.
Art. 4(1)(a) and Art. 4.3
We would like to point
to significant potential gains in terms of increased market access for the EU food and drink
industry by opening up the protected Mercosur market. But also as regards imports, access to
cheaper raw materials is an important issue in this negotiation, as some Mercosur countries
impose significant export tariffs on soybeans and soymeal – of which they are EU’s major
suppliers. By securing better and more stable access to these inputs, we can improve the
competitiveness of the EU meat sectors.
Please rest assured of our commitment to find the right balance between the need to address
the concerns you have expressed and the many opportunities an ambitious free trade
agreement with Mercosur will represent for the EU.
Electronically signed on 15/11/2018 09:33 (UTC+01) in accordance with article 4.2 (Validity of electronic documents) of Commission Decision 2004/563