EU Comm Jose Manuel Barosso

April 24th, 2008 - Pat Breen

Parliamentary Question No. 171

To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if she will report on the visit of EU Commission President, Mr. Jose Manuel Barosso to Dublin recently; if she has satisfied herself that every effort is being made by her Department to exert pressure on the European Commission to protect the future of farmers here during the World Trade Organisation talks; if the Government will exert pressure by way of veto; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

– Pat Breen.

For WRITTEN answer on Thursday, 24th April, 2008.

Ref No: 15734/08 Proof: 195

REPLY

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: (Mary Coughlan)

The Taoiseach, Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs met the EU Commission President last week as part of his visit to Ireland to address the National Forum on Europe. The ongoing WTO negotiations were high on the agenda of these meetings and the Irish position and concerns in these negotiations were clearly expressed to President Barroso. It was emphasized that Ireland is seeking a balanced and fair outcome to this WTO Round across all of the various negotiating pillars. Ireland’s position is that the final agreement which is reached must not place a disproportionate burden on EU agriculture.

This is the position which I and my Government colleagues have been and will continue to express in the strongest terms at our many bilateral meetings with the Commission and at EU Council of Ministers meetings. The negotiations have reached another critical stage with the prospect of a Ministerial meeting next month in Geneva.

There are still many issues to be resolved, not alone on the agriculture dossier, but also in the non-agricultural market access, services, rules and trade facilitation areas.

At this point in time, we can only speculate as to the content of a final WTO deal, or indeed, whether such a deal will be concluded. It is far too early to decide what position Ireland would take on a final WTO deal. We are still in the throes of negotiations and there is no certainty as yet as regards the timing, or indeed, the shape of a final deal. The Government will take a final position when the shape and the details of any deal are known.

In the meantime I will continue to pursue a positive outcome for EU agriculture in these ongoing negotiations.