May 12, 2021
Parliament AGRI committee supports MacManus’ message on trade and COVID 19

Parliament AGRI committee supports MacManus’ message on trade and COVID 19

The Agricultural Committee of the European Parliament has supported a number of key amendments by Sinn Féin MEP Chris MacManus, in establishing its opinion on the impact of COVID 19 on food trade flow. Speaking after the vote, MacManus commented: 

“After consulting with the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) and other stakeholders, I tabled a number of amendments to the Committee text, to highlight issues of importance to Irish food exporters.”

“These included the importance of ‘green lanes’ for trucks crossing borders with food, the difficulty Irish hauliers faced entering France after passing through Britain, the disjointed process of driver testing at Member States borders, and the importance of developing short sustainable supply chains in the EU.”

The Midlands Northwest MEP said lesson can be learned from the recent difficult period, “As we emerge from the pandemic, it is vital we use this time to reflect on what worked well and what did not; many have valid fears of a recurrence of such crises in years to come.”

“We may also wish to adopt permanently changes made during the pandemic; a prime example was the requirement for paper certificates to accompany food shipments. Although considered a ‘relaxation’, the move to digital certificates was a welcome streamlining of the process and should be kept.”

It must be appreciated that our supply of food was one of the least affected elements of life during the pandemic period. Our primary producers took the necessary measures to ensure shortages did not occur at production level and worked alongside those in the transport sector and supermarket workers to deliver it to our plate. We were also aided by having a stable currency and form of direct financial support to citizens.”

“This was not the case in large parts of the world; many countries are experiencing very high food price inflation, on account of lingering supply disruptions due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, currency devaluations, and other factors.”

“As world trade open again, we must firmly set our destination of travel, when it comes to trade policy. Sinn Féin believes food should be ideally produced as close as possible to end consumers, to reduce transportation emissions, support local economies and reduce the risk posed by disruption in the countries of faraway suppliers. For Ireland, this means focussing trade development between our European Union neighbours and us, especially in light of Brexit.”

The Sinn Féin MEP concluded by calling for a common-sense approach, “As a small island that has hugely benefited from trade in the last three decades, we know the answer is not banning long distance trade, but to work with countries to determine what kind of exchange of products is good for both of us in the long term. To contextualise this, I do not believe shipping 100,000T of beef from Brazil, as part of the Mercosur deal, is good for the EU’s long-term interests.” ENDS

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