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TTIP negotiations: The French Economic, Social and Environmental Council is concerned for French agriculture



Arnaud Carpon, Terre-net Média


Article published in Terre-net Média/web-agri

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In a report adopted on Tuesday 22nd March 2016, the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council asked the EU for greater transparency in TTIP negotiations between Europe and the United States. The Council is mainly concerned about the possible consequences for one sector in particular: agriculture.

While the European Commission recently gave in to keeping member States updated and informed, the Economic, Social and Environmental Council remained concerned about the lack of transparency surrounding TTIP – or – Tafta negotiations, the transatlantic treaty under discussion between the EU and the United States.

In a report voted on Tuesday 22nd March 2016, the Council made several requests to the European Commission in charge of negotiating the treaty for Europe. The Council asked for the establishment of a “control panel on the progress of the negotiations, chapter by chapter, in function of the mandate to which the consolidated texts would be attached”. The European Commission has certainly made concessions with regards transparency “by expanding the conditions under which the treaty may be consulted by national and European parliamentarians as well as national executives”.

The Council also repeated the need to “place the best offer at the centre of negotiations by identifying, sector by sector and with the relevant organizations, the most protective standards with regards the fiscal, financial, health, social and environmental perspectives on both sides of the Atlantic”.


Major concerns for French agriculture

Considering the current state of negotiations, the Council also examined the consequences of such an agreement on two “strategic” sectors for France: French SMEs and more importantly agriculture. “European agriculture could be weakened by the implementation of the Treaty”, reminds Thierry Pouch, Head of Economic Studies for APCA, in an interview.

Besides “significant disparities with the trade barriers on both sides of the Atlantic, customs duties applied in the Member States are on average twice as high as in the US. The persistence of tariff peaks on certain products could also make certain European markets particularly vulnerable in the event of the removal of these tariffs.

Moreover, the “greening” of the CAP is an attempt to “encourage the development of more environmentally friendly modes of operation”. Thus, “if European farmers continue, as do their US counterparts through the Farm Bill, to receive subsidies, this approach follows the logic of sustainable development with priority given to a high degree of food security and product quality”.

The Council also reminds us of the conclusions drawn by the only thorough impact assessment for the agricultural sector, conducted by the USDA: “In Europe, the vegetable, cheese and wine sectors gained market shares, unlike the poultry, pork and dairy sectors”. Above all, the French beef industry could lose between 44 000 and 53 000 jobs if exposed more frontally to American competition.

As to the potential impact on the French food industry, the forecasts are much more pessimistic. Only a few sectors, including biodiesel, olive oil, cider and cheese production could have a favourable outcome if the TTIP was concluded. The dairy sector, considered an “aggressive” market, should not appear to be at a complete loss.

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With these many sources of concern, “the Council considers that the European Commission should not rush into finalising the agreement and should ignore the deadline that represents the US presidential election”, said Thierry Pouch, judging “setting a deadline, illusory and even counter-productive”.


1 http://www.terre-net.fr/actualite-agricole/politique-syndicalisme/article/le-cese-s-inquiete-pour-l-agriculture-francaise-205-118105.html

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Paris, 14 December 2018