Rules to protect EU banana growers against any surge in imports from Ecuador after its accession to the EU-Colombia/Peru trade deal were approved by MEPs on Thursday (2 February).
“Ecuador’s accession to the trade agreement with Colombia and Peru has a significant impact on EU banana producers," explained rapporteur Marielle de Sarnez before the vote. "It might possibly destabilise a sector which plays an essential role in the outermost regions and is responsible for 37,000 jobs. It is therefore very important that our producers be better protected.
"From now on, they will be better informed and more involved in monitoring the market," she noted. "Also, the Commission will have a legal obligation to act if there is a surge in imports. By adopting this text, we are actively helping our outermost regions, [which are] so important for our Union."
Ecuador, one of the world`s biggest banana producers, joined the EU's trade agreement with Colombia and Peru in January 2017, after the deal was approved by the European Parliament last December. Ecuador will have preferential access to the EU market, but the interests of EU growers will be protected by a temporary stabilisation mechanism.
A political agreement on this mechanism, which enables preferences to be suspended once an annual threshold is reached, was struck by ministers and MEPs in December.
Parliament’s negotiators also inserted an early warning system, which will be triggered when import volumes reach 80 per cent of the threshold. If this happens, then the EU Commission will have to alert Parliament and the Council.
A similar stabilisation mechanism has been in place between the EU and Colombia/Peru since 2013, but the information flow between the Commission and Parliament was unsatisfactory, MEPs said.
A joint declaration ensures that the Commission will review the situation in two years’ time and may extend the protection mechanism, should the position of European growers worsen.
MEPs amended two regulations, governing the EU’s trade deal with Colombia and Peru and an association agreement with Central America.
The new rules were approved by 544 votes to 78, with 21 abstentions, and they will enter into force after the Council has also formally approved them.