Monday, February 26, 2024

France announces measures to calm farmers and rejects EU-Mercosur deal

French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal announced on Thursday that France would include the principle of “food sovereignty” in its law and reiterated its rejection of an agreement between the European Union and Mercosur, among several measures to ease the unrest among local farmers.

Detailing his program to develop France’s agricultural sector, the largest in Europe, Attal said it was “preventive” for France to accept the Mercosur trade agreement, a bloc that includes Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay.

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday trade negotiations with the South American bloc couldn’t reach port amid protests by French farmers and other countries in recent weeks. due to rising costs and cheap imports.

Among other announcements, Attal said the government would stop imposing stricter regulations on its farmers than those required by the European Union.

The measures are the latest attempt to calm angry farmers, who have put up hundreds of barricades and disrupted transport for more than two weeks.

“We want to be sovereign. We will put this objective of sovereignty into law,” said Attal.

France will step up safety checks on food imports, especially to ensure that imported food does not contain traces of pesticides banned in France or the EU.

In addition, it does not exceed the European regulations regarding pesticides. “It makes no sense to ban pesticides in France before decisions are made on the matter in the EU.”

France plans to immediately ban imports of fruits and vegetables treated with Bayer’s pesticide, thiacloprid.

The European Food Safety Agency stated that thiacloprid not only kills insects but also harms bees and bumblebees, and highlighted its concern about the toxicity of the active substance for humans and its presence in concentrations that are too high for plants.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the government will also evaluate the effectiveness of a fair food pricing law and the process of annual negotiations with retailers.

Farmers blocked the distribution centers of retailers in France and Brussels to protest the pressure put on them in contract negotiations with supermarkets.

As Attal spoke, roads across France remained blocked by tractors, and in Brussels, farmers set fire to barricades and toppled a statue in a square in the European quarter during an EU summit.

World Nation News Desk
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