The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, has today conveyed Spain’s support to the European Commission to promote the application of the so-called ‘mirror clauses’ in trade negotiations with third countries so that imported products are required to meet the same quality and food safety standards as those produced in Europe.
Planas stressed that this reciprocity is a political priority for Spain and that it also responds to a demand from farmers, livestock breeders and European citizens in general at the Council of Agriculture Ministers of the European Union (EU) held today in Brussels. This issue was put on the agenda at the first Council under the French rotating presidency, which aims to make progress in aligning EU trade and agricultural policies as part of its priorities for the six-month period.
The minister assured that Spain has always defended multilateralism in international trade, based on rules, which is open, transparent and with stable trade agreements, and added that for Spain it is a priority that imported products meet the same requirements and standards as those produced within the EU.
Planas referred in particular to citrus fruits, and reiterated Spain’s request that they be considered sensitive products and that existing concessions not be extended. Planas pointed out that citrus production is one of the most important pillars of the economy in rural areas of the Mediterranean arc, the viability of which is threatened by the increase in imports from third countries.
In relation to citrus fruits and the reciprocity conditions, Planas recalled Spain’s request, which is being studied by the European Commission, for cold treatment to be applied to imported products to prevent the entry of pests.
During today’s Council of Ministers, Spain has asked the European Commission to intensify its efforts to reach a negotiated solution with the United States to eliminate the ‘unfair’ tariffs imposed on the import of black olives in this country.
On 20 December, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) ruled that these tariffs are not compatible with free trade rules. After this decision, which the United States has not appealed, Planas considered it urgent to reach an agreement to put an end to the tariffs and assured that “it is an issue that is not only important for Spain but for the whole of the European Union because what was under discussion is how the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) affects a specific product such as the black olive when it is sold on the North American market.”
Planas has asked the European Commission to take into account our most sensitive sectors in the trade agreements under negotiation with third countries. The Council also discussed the monitoring of the functioning of Brexit, because although trade with the United Kingdom has so far remained normal, the import agreements reached by the UK government with countries outside the European Union (EU) could have repercussions on the EU market.
The Council of Ministers once again addressed the situation of price increases in the production costs of agricultural and livestock products, such as energy, fertilisers and animal feed, which affect all EU countries. According to the minister, this is a very worrying situation that has been going on for a long time and is jeopardising the profitability of farms, especially in the livestock sector. In this regard, he reiterated the need for the European Commission to take coordinated action to deal with the situation.
Planas held a bilateral meeting with the new German Minister of Agriculture and Food, Cem Özdemir, with whom he discussed, among other matters, the strategic plans of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and, in particular, the mechanisms and instruments for managing them in countries with a decentralised political organisation, as is the case of Spain and Germany.