Nicholson proposals are endorsed by MEPs

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Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson has welcomed the endorsement by MEPs of his proposals for protecting agriculture in upcoming EU - New Zealand trade negotiations.

This week in Strasbourg, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee voted for Mr Nicholson’s Opinion which called for sensitive sectors to be protected while highlighting the opportunities for the European agri-food sector if a fair and balanced deal is agreed.

The proposals will now be sent to the Parliament’s International Trade Committee.

Mr Nicholson said: “I firmly believe that an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand can be of mutual benefit for both the EU and New Zealand - but it must respect the sensitivities of European agriculture - particularly in relation to sectors like dairy and sheep and goat meat. If we get this right, we can reap opportunities for producers and advance Europe’s position as a key player on the global market.

“However we have also warned the Commission that we do not want EU agriculture to be used as a bargaining chip in negotiations. The Commission needs to keep the agri-food sector and Agriculture Committee MEPs informed on all aspects of negotiations.

“While the UK will of course be leaving the European Union, it remains vital for local producers and processors that a fair and balanced EU - New Zealand deal is agreed, as it will likely form a template for future UK - New Zealand bilateral trade talks.”