EU egg producers have lobbied MEPs for fair trade, not free trade, highlighting that the egg industry would be disadvantaged if it isn’t given special protected status in any future trade agreements.
Industry organisation EUWEP has concerns that, with a number of free-trade agreements in progress around the world, European egg could be undercut by imports from countries with lower production costs.
EUWEP pointed to proposed trade agreements with the USA, the Mercosur group of South American countries and Ukraine, which it said would “seriously undermine” the EU egg industry.
Concerns are underpinned by a report by LEI, part of Wangeningen University in the Netherlands, which studied the effects of cutting import tariffs by half and third-country currencies getting closer to parity with the euro. The report suggested that the potential existed for European egg to cost more than imports, making it uncompetitive in its own market.
EUWEP president Arend Mijs said these agreements between the EU and “agricultural powerhouses” threatened to have a great effect.
Mark Williams, who is secretary-general of EUWEP, said higher regulations and standards in EU egg production drove up costs, making it “significantly cheaper to produce an egg in Brazil or the USA”.
“We are asking that any imports from countries outside the EU are produced to the same standards. We strongly believe that is what EU consumers want,” he told MEPs at a reception in Brussels.
“While the EU egg industry has and will continue to do everything in its power to maximise its own competitiveness, it is important that policy makers do take account of the conditions in which it operates.”
Mr Williams said EUWEP was seeking special import status for egg, protecting it from drops in import tariffs.