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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Motions\Environment\Waste management\regulations

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Motions\Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru\Motion
Environment\Waste management\regulations
Motions\Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru
Motions\Environment\regulations\Waste management

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Free Trade Agreements between the European Union and Columbia and Peru

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Snippet Contents:

I referred to the fact that, in particular, the agrifood sector has suffered as a result of those sanctions, including the displacement of products that would otherwise go from central Europe eastwards. I subsequently read reports in a farming publication of individual EU member states being able to get certain products exempted from sanctions. I do not know how valid those reports were. It was not small member states that were mentioned, but the larger ones that were identified in the Farmers' Journal as having made some progress in having certain product lines exempted from the sanctions. Perhaps the Department can have that checked out for us. If there are exemptions we should be in there fighting our corner as well, while not taking away from the principled stand we have taken in supporting the EU's sanctions on Russia. We are dealing as strongly as we can with the aggression Russia has shown towards Ukraine over the past year or so.
Deputy Eric Byrne mentioned that at a recent meeting of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade, non-governmental organisations made a telling presentation regarding their concerns about this proposed free trade agreement. NGOs such as Trócaire and Christian Aid, as well as the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, are all reputable bodies whose officials are working in those areas. They are a good source of intelligence for the State and for all of us. When they take a strong stand on issues, their arguments, contentions and concerns should be heeded in detail.
A group contacted me about this free trade agreement and I have met with its representatives. Subsequently, the chairperson of that group, the Irish Colombian Lawyers Caravana de Colombia, Mr. Seán O'Reilly, wrote to me. He wanted his group's views to be shared with other Members of the House and with the general public. Mr. O'Reilly wrote as follows: I received that letter from Mr. Seán O'Reilly, leader of the Irish delegation 2014, Caravana de Colombia. We must take note of the contents of that letter, which is from a group committed to dealing with human rights abuses in Colombia. We must express our concerns regarding all the issues Mr. O'Reilly has outlined in that correspondence. I met Mr. O'Reilly and some of his colleagues who provided me with instances of desperate human rights abuses they have come across. They also cited the great, committed work of so many international jurists and lawyers who go to Colombia annually or bi-annually to try to help in dealing with the situation there.
My colleague, Deputy Calleary, quoted earlier from the decision of the Joint Committee on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to recommend opposition to this free trade agreement. As Deputy Tóibín said, it is seldom that a committee decides - I presume unanimously - to oppose a Government proposal. In his concluding remarks, perhaps the Minister can let us know if this deal is being driven strongly by any countries within the EU. The Minister will know better than anyone else in this House that at times, depending on who holds the position of EU trade commissioner, there can be a huge push to get some agreements in place. I recall that one particular commissioner, along with the then president of the European Commission, was very strong in trying to get the Mercosur agreement put into effect. The latter deal affected sectors in Ireland and could pose serious problems for others sectors in our economy. Opinion was divided in the agrifood industry. The dairy and drinks industries were very much in favour of Mercosur, while the beef sector was opposed to it.
The Minister has seen parliamentary questions I have tabled to him raising concerns about the proposed EU-US trade deal as well. There are obviously potential benefits but there can also be major downsides for Ireland, including our indigenous food sector. I sincerely hope that if the proposal before us is progressed, the concerns of our own industrial sector will be dealt with effectively. Fianna Fáil will be opposing this proposal.