Irish parliament rejects EU-Mercosur deal in symbolic vote

1,000 beef farmers demonstrated against the deal outside Leinster House.

A MOTION TO reject the Mercosur trade deal has been passed by the Dáil.

The Sinn Féin-proposed motion passed by 84 votes to 46.

Mercosur refers to a customs union between Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay; the recent trade deal was struck with the EU after almost 20 years of negotiations.

This week, members of the farming community protested against the deal in the streets of Dublin, arguing that cheap beef and steak from Brazil and Argentina would put pressure on beef farmers across Europe. They also argued that the same environmental, ethical and health standards as the EU’s wouldn’t be met.

Climate change activists also expressed concern about doing a deal with Brazil, whose President Jair Bolsonaro has threatened to cut down Amazon rainforests to supply more land to beef farmers.

The vote, on a Sinn Féin motion, was defeated by 84 votes to 46, with Fianna Fáil voting with Sinn Féin and other opposition parties against the Government.

The motion condemned the trade agreement, recently agreed between the EU and four South American countries, as “a bad deal for Ireland and for the planet” and mandated the Government to oppose the deal at the Council of Ministers in the future.

It also demanded that the Government “consider this motion as binding on this and future governments” and said the Government must use “all legal and political means available to frustrate and thwart the deal”.

It also said the Government should “nominate a suitably competent person to defend Ireland’s interests as the next EU Commissioner.”

Current European Commissioner Phil Hogan – who the Government decided this week to nominate for another term – has been criticised for his support for the deal.

On Wednesday, up to 1,000 beef farmers demonstrated against the deal outside Leinster House.

Sinn Féin agriculture spokesperson Brian Stanley welcomed this Thursday’s vote, saying the vote “must be respected”.

“The Irish parliament… has called on the Irish government to reject a deal which is bad for farmers, bad for the environment and bad for consumers.

“The Dáil has also called on the Irish government to immediately begin forming alliances with other countries within the EU to vote against this deal.

Stanley said that this was “essential” as Ireland has no veto on this deal; the Irish Farmers’ Association welcomed the vote, and said that it would intensify its campaign in Europe to have the deal rejected.

Stanley continued:

It’s time for Leo to listen farmers who know a lot more about farming that he does. It’s time that Fine Gael took on board the advice of climate action groups.

Ireland’s parliament voted on Thursday to press the government to lead opposition inside the European Union to a draft trade deal that Brussels has struck with the Mercosur bloc of South American countries.

The EU two weeks ago became the first major partner with which Mercosur has struck a trade pact. Mercosur committed to more open markets in the face of a rising tide of protectionism and offered EU firms a potential head start.

Ireland, as one of the smaller members of the 28-member EU, would need other member states to help form a blocking minority if it sought to reject the deal, as ratification will eventually be put to a qualified majority vote.

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