Agriculture minister in warning over EU trade deal with Canada

Tuesday 29 January 2013 12.47
Minister Coveney was speaking in Brussels after chairing a meeting of ministers as part of Ireland's presidency of the EU
Minister Coveney was speaking in Brussels after chairing a meeting of ministers as part of Ireland's presidency of the EU

Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney has warned that an EU trade deal with Canada should not be allowed to result in access to European dairy and beef markets "at any price".

Minister Coveney was speaking in Brussels after chairing a meeting of ministers as part of Ireland's presidency of the EU.

The EU Commission is currently negotiating an economic and trade agreement with Canada covering all trade issues, including agriculture.

Mr Coveney said: "You cannot use agriculture as a way of opening the door for other economic activities."

His comments follow a warning from the Irish Farmers Association President John Bryan that a trade deal with Canada could have "damaging implications" for Irish agriculture.

Minister Coveney also said a deal on reform of the Common Agricultural Policy depended on final agreement on the EU budget.

"A number of countries made clear that until they know the size of the budget they are not going to decide how to spend it. And that makes perfect sense to me," he said.

The minister said he wanted backing for the reform plan before Ireland concluded its EU presidency at the end of June.

He said he had received "strong endorsement" for his timetable of reforms from other agriculture ministers.

The proposals would see a new Common Agricultural Policy being in place by the beginning of 2014.

On the issue of horse meat from Poland being found in Irish beef burgers, he said: "It is an issue that we will have an ongoing discussion with Polish authorities about to find out how it happened and to make sure it does not happen again."