MEPs boost protection for banana growers as Ecuador joins FTA

Bananas are vital to the economy of many if the EU's peripheral regions. [Greg Walters/Flickr]

The European Parliament last Thursday (2 February) approved measures to protect European banana producers against increasing competition from imports from Ecuador; a result of the country’s accession to the EU’s trade deal with Colombia and Peru. EURACTIV Spain reports.

Ecuador’s joining of the EU’s free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia and Peru is a worry for Europe’s banana farmers. MEPs warned that it could destabilise a sector that employs some 37,000 people and plays a vital role in the economy of some of the Union’s most peripheral regions.

One of the biggest producers of bananas in the world, Ecuador joined the EU free trade agreement at the start of this year.

Merkel hopes for 'fair' EU-Mercosur trade deal

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Saturday (4 February) that she would work toward securing a “fair” free-trade deal between the EU and Mercosur, the South American economic bloc.

Under the deal approved by the European Parliament last week, Ecuador’s market access can be suspended if imports cross a certain annual threshold.

An ‘early warning’ system will be activated if imports reach 80% for the year, with the European Commission obliged to inform the Parliament and Council.

A similar stabilisation mechanism has been in force for Colombian and Peruvian imports since 2013, but MEPs are not satisfied with the flow of information between the Commission and the Parliament.

While Latin American countries are the biggest producers of bananas, the EU has an 11% share of the global market. Most European bananas are grown in Spain (Canary Islands), France (Guadeloupe and Martinique), Portugal (Madeira and the Azores), Cyprus and Greece.

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