Commissioner quizzed on meat scandal

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MEPs debated the issue of fraudulent practices in the Brazilian meat sector in Strasbourg this week.

Ulster Unionist MEP Jim Nicholson quizzed the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis who represented the European Commission during the debate.

Mr Nicholson questioned why the European Commission is pressing ahead with trade talks between the Mercosur bloc of countries (which includes Brazil) given the scale of the scandal.

Speaking after the debate Mr Nicholson said: “I was glad to be able to push for this debate in the plenary chamber. As I said to Commissioner Andriukaitis, this is not the first time the wool has been pulled over Europe’s eyes by Brazil. We saw this in 2007, when it took a delegation of MEPs to actually visit Brazil to prove that we were not being given the full story. If the European Commission has been fooled once more, I have to ask the question: how long before it happens again?

“We in Europe rightly take pride in our high food production standards. It is therefore extremely worrying that the Commission was unaware this scandal was going on. The system has clearly been found wanting. And given the severity of this scandal and the worries consumers have, I find it perplexing that the Commission is still pressing ahead with trade talks with the Mercosur bloc of countries.”

The Ulster Unionist MEP also continued his series of Brexit meetings this week, holding discussions with Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator.

Mr Nicholson said that the meeting was a useful opportunity to brief Mr Barnier on Northern Ireland specific issues at the beginning of the formal negotiations following the recent triggering of Article 50.