Europe’s largest lobby warned European farmers will bear the brunt of efforts by the European Union to keep global trade talks afloat by “drip-feeding” its trade partners offers to open trade.
“We are fed up with our negotiators who make one concession after another while the US and others sit back and do nothing,” Rudolf Schwarzboeck, president of the Committee of Professional Agricultural Organizations in the EU, or COPA, told a European Parliament hearing.
European lawmakers should put their weight behind a move to stop trade negotiators making a deal that’s bad for European farmers, he urged.
Europe has failed to secure equal commitments to open up trade from major trading nations such as the US, Australia, Brazil and Canada, Schwarzboeck said.
He dismissed this week’s US position on cutting farm subsidies as “confused.” Declarations by US Trade Representative Rob Portman that the US will cut trade distorting farm payments won’t come to fruition, he warned, because US senators and congressmen won’t back it.
European trade chief Peter Mandelson this week responded to the US plan by a proposal to cut some trade tariffs by more than 50%, and lower trade-distorting farm payments.
Schwarzboeck warned Europe is getting back little in return. “None” of the EU’s requests that other countries open up their farm markets have been met, he said.
Moreover, “none of the EU request in the other parts of the negotiations has been met either - on industrial tariffs, on services, anti-dumping - you name it.”
“We have now tipped that balance so far in an attempt to meet our trading partners’ demands that we are in danger of destroying the type of farming in Europe that citizens have shown they want and have every right to expect,” he said.
US and other trade negotiators are clamoring for the EU to open up its farm markets. A study by the independent Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development estimates Europe ranks highest in protecting its farmers from outside competition. (Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)