The letter, signed by secretary general Pekka Pesonen on behalf of 22 million farmers and their families, as well as 22,000 EU agri-cooperatives, urged European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, commissioner Cecilia Malmström and commissioner Phil Hogan not to rush into any agreements.
It said: “It may be hard to resist the temptation to make rush and unbalanced concessions, which run counter to the best interests of agriculture, in order to seal the deal. The upcoming decisions of our negotiators will be crucial to ensuring the continued sustainability of European agriculture.”
Pesonen added the EU agricultural industry was still reeling from “hasty political decisions” and was suffering from “double standards” in terms of what was being asked of farmers compared to what was being asked of Mercosur farmers.
Citing Juncker’s own comments about Europe, Pesonen raised the issue of climate change and what EU farmers were doing to combat this, asking whether a Mercosur deal would have an impact on this. He also pointed to food standards, particularly focusing on pesticides approved in Brazil, as well as the value of concessions, and the trade impact of a deal on the beef, sugar, ethanol, poultry, rice and orange juice sectors.
Pesonen concluded the letter by stating: “Decisions made now on trade will affect the very foundations of European life for generations to come, especially at a time when the farming sector is looking to secure its generation renewal. We cannot afford double standards. What is at stake here is not just economics. It is the triple bottom line of European sustainability: society, economics and the environment. It is also about your [EU Commission president’s] legacy!”
Copa Cogeca’s letter follows a letter written to Juncker from the Irish, French, Polish and Belgian leaders, expressing “deep concern” over the deal and the impact it would have on their agricultural industries.