Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2010-07-08-Speech-4-108"

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"Mr President, I will try to answer some of the questions because a lot of questions have been raised, but many were also already answered in my introductory statement. It remains the position of the Commission that protectionist measures should be avoided particularly in the current global economic context, and one of the elements that was mentioned, the deficit with Argentina, is certainly a very good one. On sugar: The Commission is perfectly aware of the sensitivity of the sugar issue and that is why the offer to Colombia and Peru was limited to tariff quotas at zero duty for a modest volume and without an out-of-quota tariff reduction. Similar quotas are provided for within the framework of the negotiations with Central America. The Colombian, Peruvian and Central American aggregated quantities account for less than 2% of European consumption. As for plant health, environmental and other measures … I made it very clear in my statements that we are going to stick to the food safety requirements, and these are the ones that can be enforced within the WTO. We will do that. If you look at the imports of beef – and this is also partly in answer to Mr Tarabella, who has left the plenary in the mean time – he will notice that, subsequently to SPS problems with Brazilian beef, the imports decreased considerably. So we are imposing them: we are monitoring them and we are imposing them and will continue to do so. But we should realise, also in this European Parliament, that a certain number of European requirements have been decided internally that are the result of a political process in which the European Parliament was very heavily involved and that we cannot impose through the WTO. We have to stick to the ones that we can impose and make the WTO respect: we will certainly do so in the case of food safety. In the case of the others, there the European Union has to consider what they really want to do. They should realise that, if they impose that kind of requirement on our agriculture, this has economic and financial consequences. But those are not the ones that we can impose on other countries. I have tried to answer most of the questions that were reiterated in the questions put by the Members, but of course I am ready for further discussion. I presume that this is not the last time we will discuss Mercosur in this plenary. First of all on the mandate. Several Members criticised the fact that we are working on the basis of a mandate going back to 1999. The 1999 directives task us – and I am quoting – ‘with negotiating a balanced and comprehensive agreement with Mercosur with the aim of liberalising substantially all trade in line with the EU’s commitment at the WTO. This applies to all areas to be covered by the agreement, including agriculture’. That is still true. That is still what we have to do, so nothing much has to be added to this mandate. In the mean time, we have the problem of climate change and the world has changed since then. Yes, we have noticed that too, and we will take this into consideration in the negotiations. That is not the reason to change the mandate. There was another Member who said that Council should be here and that Council should instruct us. The Council does not have to instruct us. We have a mandate to negotiate and, if the negotiation is over and eventually we come to a result, we initial, the Council signs and Parliament ratifies. We are not instructed by the Council. And happily so, because this is a Community matter and it is an exclusive competence of the European Union whereby the Commission has very clear competences. We will stick to that. I am ready to discuss at length any of the elements. I have done so with the INTA Committee and I am ready to go back to the INTA Committee. You will be kept informed of what we are negotiating, what is put on the table and so on, but everybody has his role to play and we will play the role that the Commission has to play in this respect. As for the problem of the protectionist measures taken recently by Argentina, these measures and practices are clearly of concern to the EU and we immediately asked Argentina for clarification. A letter was sent by the Director-General for Trade to his Argentinean counterpart on 12 May. A formal démarche was launched by the EU delegation in Buenos Aires and several meetings were held with the mission of Argentina and its Ambassador in Brussels to express our strongest concerns. We have also insisted that the commitment to reject protectionism in all its forms be directly included in the EU-Mercosur joint communiqué. Last week in Buenos Aires we raised this topic bilaterally with the relevant Argentinean authorities, in the press and in the context of the EU-Mercosur first round of negotiations. Our message was very strong and very clear. We indicated that these measures, no matter whether they are based on legal written grounds or not, go against the spirit of negotiating an FTA with the EU and risk having a clear negative impact on the negotiating process. We were further intending to discuss the issue with Argentina on 6 July in the joint committee, but Argentina announced its postponement last week. We will insist that we have this meeting as soon as possible. In addition, they appear at first glance to be inconsistent with Argentina’s commitments in the G20 framework and possibly with its WTO commitments. We will continue monitoring this issue very attentively and, if these measures and practices were to be maintained, carefully analyse them before deciding on the best possible solution to address this problem."@en1

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