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Spain suggests simplifying CAP, strengthening Mercosur ‘mirror clauses’

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Euractiv | 13 February 2024

Spain suggests simplifying CAP, strengthening Mercosur ‘mirror clauses’

By Fernando Heller

Spain will present a proposal to streamline administrative rules under the Common Agricultural Policy and strengthen mirror clauses in free trade agreements, such as the EU-Mercosur deal, to ensure that trading partners respect similar agricultural and environmental constraints, Spanish Agriculture Minister Luis Planas (PSOE/S&D) said on Monday.

Spain will also present its EU partners with a concrete proposal to reform its food chain law and various ideas to try to resolve other issues of concern to farmers, including agricultural insurance, Planas also told Onda Cero, Euractiv’s partner EFE reported.

However, as in other EU countries, Spanish farmers took to the streets to demand changes, including greater flexibility in the EU’s CAP, compliance with the Food Chain Act – including abolishing the ‘sale at a loss‘ measure, which is an extension of the temporary tax reduction on agricultural diesel – and aid for sectors affected by the ongoing drought in the country.

In the latest protest, which took place on Monday in Madrid, protesters condemned the “pressure” applied by EU policies which “threaten the viability of farms,” the provincial general secretary of the Coordinator of Organisations of Farmers and Ranchers (COAG) in Madrid, Ivana Martinez, told EFE on Monday.

Monday’s protests were also joined by truck drivers who are on their second day of strikes demanding more favourable tax cuts and petrol subsidies, mobilised following calls from the National Platform for the Defence of Transport despite the National Federation of Transport Associations of Spain (Fenadismer) opposing it.

As protests are set to continue, including a large protest before the Agriculture Ministry planned for 21 February, and discontent expected to spread to other sectors, Planas assured that he is also in “regular contact “with fishermen’s associations who are to meet this week to decide whether to join the protests by farmers and stock breeders in Spain.

However, while reiterating his support for the right to demonstrate, Planas expressed his opposition to protests in which there could be “political manipulation”, referring to the possible use of demonstrations for partisan purposes by opposition forces, referring mainly to the main opposition force Partido Popular and the third-largest group in parliament, far-right VOX.

Maximum reciprocity in trade agreements

Referring to the upcoming “decisive” EU elections in June, Planas said that Brussels and his government attach great importance to the future “sustainability” of the sector, without forgetting its profitability.

On the controversial issue of the “mirror clauses” in trade pacts such as the one between the EU and Mercosur -that would force producers from both sides to respect the same environmental and health standards- the minister reiterated Spain’s demand for full “reciprocity”.

“If a phytosanitary product is banned in the EU, it must be banned outright on imports”, Planas stressed.

Commenting on the controversial CAP, which many European farmers have criticised for its excessive bureaucracy, Spanish Economy Minister Carlos Cuerpo (PSOE/S&D) told Spanish public radio and television (RTVE) on Monday that Madrid would push for a reform that would help achieve a substantial “administrative simplification” of access to EU subsidies.

 source: Euractiv