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EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement: No ‘additional declaration’ can fix it

3 March 2021

Demonstration in Brussels against Mercosur credit Friends of the Earth FW March 2021

The EU-Mercosur Association Agreement should be “flipped” to support environmentally sound supply chains, rather than try to mitigate the harm from business as usual, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) heard on 25 February 2021. The remarks were made by one of the expert speakers at the hearing of the European Parliament Committee on International Trade, which met to consider the trade deal they may one day have to vote through or veto.

While #SayNoEUMercosur protesters demonstrated outside against the potentially destructive deal , MEPs heard concrete proposals concerning what it would take to bring the deal within environmentally sustainable boundaries, in keeping with the European Green Deal agenda. The proposals, drawn up by a multidisciplinary team of academics and published earlier this month, would require a root-and-branch renegotiation of the agreement. The proposals are in line with Fern’s own position on the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement.

To achieve these kinds of changes would require at least some political will from leaders in the EU and Mercosur countries. In the case of Brazil at least, such an advance does not look hopeful. President Bolsonaro and his closest allies have been pursuing a relentless anti-environment and anti-human rights agenda since taking power in 2019.

This agenda received a boost early February, when Brazil’s Congress elected staunch Bolsonaro supporters to lead both the Senate and the lower house. With the voices of opposition weakened, the Bolsonaro government is set to continue its assault on environmental regulations. The work of environmental defenders in Brazil, who already risk their lives to protect forests and other ecosystems, became even more dangerous this month: Four Presidential decrees passed in February have made it significantly easier for people to buy guns and ammunition, with much less federal police and army oversight. 

The European Commission and others are trying to develop an ‘additional declaration’ to address some of the environmental controversy connected with the EU-Mercosur deal. But as Brazil’s government demonstrates outright hostility to environmental limits and human rights protections, this kind of goodwill approach seems doomed to fail. Searching for solutions is a positive impulse but ultimately, if an environmentally sound deal cannot be struck, the EU must be willing to walk away.

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Categories: EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement

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