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France Make Food Safety a Top Priority in EU-Mercosur Deal

The European Commission is currently negotiating a deal with Mercosur, which includes the South American countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. However, discussions may be delayed as France pushes for improved protection for EU farmers and workers and pursues a food safety inclusion in the deal.

Offering great potential for EU industry, the deal would vastly improve access to emerging markets of over 250 million consumers. This would hugely benefit the European agricultural and food sectors in particular; and the proposed free trade deal between the EU and the South American coalition could double Europe’s exports to the region within five years.

Food Safety Concerns

After many years of talks, the European Commission had hoped to conclude negotiations with Mercosur by the end of 2017. This is a top priority for the EU’s free trade agenda.

However, there are major food safety concerns, especially following recent scandals which suggest that meatpackers in Brazil bribed inspectors to overlook hygiene and sanitary practices.

France is now leading the way in seeking to include food safety provisions in the EU-Mercosur deal. French president, Emmanuel Macron is tentative about concluding trade negotiations by the end of this year. This is due to the fact that many French farmers are concerned about competition from cheaper meat and ethanol products being imported from the Mercosur countries. 

Meanwhile, Mercosur members are seeking greater market access for food exports to the EU.

France's Actions

France will therefore propose a change in the European Commission’s mandate to include food safety provisions.

France has led a group of 11 countries calling on the EC, which negotiates trade agreements on behalf of European Union nations, not to rush into a deal with the South American alliance of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.

It is clear that improved protection for EU farmers and workers also needs to be provided before the EU-Mercosur trade deal can be finalised.  The trade talks continue, and a deal is yet to be confirmed.

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