Focus on: TTIP, food & farming
European Union lawmakers approved an increase in US beef imports to the EU, a move likely to ease transatlantic tensions.
European Union plans to allow more US beef imports cleared a key hurdle when EU lawmakers specialising in trade backed the move, which is likely to ease transatlantic tensions.
Yielding to aggressive US policy, the European Union signed a deal with the United States which allows US farmers to sell more beef to Europe and will lead to a meat surplus in the European market.
The EU has agreed to increase the quota allocated to US beef exporters to 35,000 tonnes a year. The total quota of non-hormone-beef permitted to enter the EU market will remain unchanged at 45,000 tonnes.
The US is not ready to negotiate unless agriculture products are included in the agreement. But agriculture “is a red line for us,” EU’s trade chief said.
That’s in part because of a long-running catch 22: the US won’t contemplate a deal that doesn’t include agricultural goods, and the EU, keen to protect its own farmers and maintain food standards, refuses to allow a deal that does include them.
The US negotiating objectives clearly intend to cover agriculture broadly. One of the trade negotiation mandates adopted by the EU addresses domestic regulatory changes which does not exclude agriculture.
A bipartisan group of 114 US House members sent a letter to the US Trade Representative, urging him to “insist on the inclusion of agricultural products" in trade talks with the European Union.
The EU now imports 112 percent more US soy than a year ago, flooding the market to feed EU factory farms. Bad news for animal welfare, bad news for the environment.
The European Commission is set to authorise imports of soybeans from the US to produce biofuels. Soy has a comparably bad environmental impact as palm oil, say experts.