No ‘mountains of butter’ in EU
Australian farmers have been told they do not have to worry about the European Union’s fabled ‘‘mountains of butter’’ in free trade negotiations.
A delegation of European MPs are 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 said.
Local farmers have long pushed for access to the lucrative European market but previously had to compete with heavily subsidised produce.
Mr Moisa said that was 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.’’
Mr Moisa said the MPs were examining how Australian farms were set up, particularly large cattle farms.
A free-trade deal with the EU will open up a market of half a billion people, in an economy worth $22.6 trillion.
A second round of negotiations on the deal is due later this month.