Australian farmers have been told they don’t have to worry about the European Union’s fabled “mountains of butter” in free trade negotiations.
A delegation of European MPs is in Australia as part of the negotiations on a free trade deal and they are optimistic about getting it done.
“Australian farmers can expect increased access to the European market following these negotiations, if everything else goes in place nicely,” Romanian MP Sorin Moisa told AAP on Wednesday.
Local farmers have long pushed for access to the lucrative European market but previously had to compete with heavily subsidised produce.
Mr Moisa says it’s no longer the case.
“The mountains of butter that may still persist in the Australian imagination when you think about the EU – they are long gone,” he said.
“We have a very market-oriented common agricultural policy now; we no longer have export subsidies, so for at least a generation now in Europe we have fully modernised.
“The image of a Fortress Europe, desperately protecting its agriculture no matter what, is a thing of the past.”
German MP Ulrike Mueller said one area of contention involved geographic indicators – where Australian products use names protected in Europe, like ‘prosecco’.
“The GIs are a challenge but let’s also see they’re a great opportunity for all of us,” she told AAP.
“We have regional markets for regional products in Europe, and this has shown us that people actually yearn for these regional products because in them they can see their own regional identity and national identity.”
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