TTIP must not jeopardise EU farming model and food quality standards, Agriculture MEPs say
EU must seek ambitious and mutually beneficial deal with the United States on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that would preserve the European agriculture model, safeguard the Union's food safety standards and protect EU quality products on the US market, the Agriculture committee said in a vote on Tuesday.
"This vote is a crucial moment in the Agriculture committee. Our position takes into account various concerns regarding food safety, protection of European consumers, animal and plant health and animal welfare. But it also focuses on opportunities that could arise from a possible agreement. The well-balanced deal could further strengthen Europe's position in the global agri-food market and could make the EU a leading world player ", said Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT), the co-rapporteur of the approved opinion.
"Today's vote sends strong signal that there are opportunities for the EU in these negotiations with the US. Yes we must maintain our high food production and animal welfare standards. We must defend the sectors which may be vulnerable. However it would be naive not to see the benefits of removing tariff barriers to EU products. We should not be inward looking, but instead be positive in exploring the opportunities to their fullest extent", said James Nicholson (ECR, UK), the co-rapporteur of the approved text.
Respect for EU standards and labels and protection of small farmers
In an opinion for the International trade committee, adopted by 27 votes in favour to 18 against, the Agriculture committee stressed that the agriculture sector must not be used as a bargaining chip to secure access to the US market for other sectors. MEPs also insisted that the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism must not undermine sovereign rights of the EU or member states.
Furthermore, the Agriculture committee urged the Commission to:
- reach an ambitious and balanced result of negotiations and focus on key agricultural components, i.e. market access, geographical indications and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, at the early stage of talks to give Parliament sufficient time to discuss these issues with citizens, civil society and farmers, particularly the small ones;
firmly commit to the strict preservation of EU standards in areas of food safety, consumer protection, human health, animal and plant health, animal welfare and environmental protection and to ensure that the enhancement of these standards is in no way hampered in the future;
secure a strong position for high quality European products so that EU producers can benefit from access to the US market and make sure that these products, including those bearing geographical indications, would enjoy appropriate legal protection in the US. Measures to deal with improper use, misleading information and practices and to ensure traceability, protection of the labelling and genuine origin of agricultural products, are essential elements of a balanced agreement, MEPs say;
preserve the European agricultural model and ensure its economic and social viability and consider all possible options, including tariff reduction and limited tariff rate quotas in cases when competition would expose EU producers, particularly small farmers, to excessive pressure, or if the unfair competition caused by diverging regulatory conditions leads to distortions.
The opinion of the Agriculture committee will now be forwarded to the International trade committee, which is in charge of drafting the Parliament's position on the TTIP negotiations. The vote in the International trade committee is now foreseen in May.
Procedure: Opinion for the lead committee
Type of document: Non-legislative resolution
Tuesday, 14 April 2015
In the chair: Czesław Adam SIEKIERSKI (EPP, PL)
Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development