The article below was published in the Irish Farming Independent on Tuesday 17 May (the original article can be read by clicking on this link and choosing the ‘Continue to use Press Display’ option). The article addresses the high dependence of Irish agriculture on public support, but the question I raise has, I think, wider relevance for other EU member states as well. With expectations growing that the June Agricultural Council may announce yet another aid package for the agricultural sector, my question is whether there is a vision for European (and not only Irish) agriculture in which this heavy dependence on public support for income in the sector can be reduced.
Disputes over food safety standards – what in the language of trade policy are called sanitary and phytosanitary standards (SPS) – have been at the heart of many transatlantic trade rows between the US and the EU. We can think of the EU bans on the import of hormone-treated beef, or pork treated with growth-promoting additives, or poultry washed in antimicrobial rinses to reduce the amount of microbes on meat. As a result, the potential impact of the ongoing negotiations to reach a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade agreement between the US and EU on EU food standards has, rightly, attracted a lot of attention and no little anxiety.