Most news reports on the breakdown of
The safeguard mechanisms are widely acknowledged to be a comparatively small part of the talks. So why have they been assigned such prominence? This is in part because media analysis, at least in the short-term, will generally tend to look at the more immediate factors for a given event. And it is certainly true that the issue of safeguard mechanisms was an important factor in the immediate term.
However, there are longer-term factors that offer a more useful explanation for the demise of
Viewed in these terms, a large portion of the blame must be assigned to the EU.
From the start, the EU negotiating position has been characterised by a toxic combination of stinginess and inflexibility. During the
Even during this round of the talks, it was very unclear that Mandelson had a firm negotiating mandate from EU member states, let alone the ability to make any improved offer on market access. French Trade Minister Anne-Marie Idrac stated that the EU would refuse to compromise on opening its markets for farm goods: “We can’t go further; we won’t go further on agriculture and we expect more open market access from emerging countries”. The explicit threat from Nicolas Sarkozy to veto even the current deal went even further in undermining the credibility of Mandelson’s position. Combined with significant pressure being applied by politically important Irish farmers, these factors meant that the EU offer could never inspire much confidence amongst the other negotiating parties at the
Although the EU tried to spin that it was offering to reduce farm subsidies under the
Given the intransigence of the EU on market access and farm subsidies, it's understandable that large developing countries were unwilling to take a more accommodating stance on opening their own markets.
The question of safeguard mechanisms was merely the final straw that led to the collapse of talks. The real underlying reasons go far deeper.