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Why the EU Deforestation Regulation won’t sugar coat the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement

20 April 2023

Why the EU Deforestation Regulation won’t sugar coat the EU-Mercosur Trade Agreement

In June 2019, after more than 20 years of tortuous negotiations, a bilateral trade agreement was agreed between the European Union (EU) and the Mercosur bloc of nations - Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay (European Union Mercosur Trade Agreement - EMTA).  

The Agreement’s impact would be economically and environmentally far-reaching.   

Yet following the 2019 election of Jair Bolsonaro as President of Brazil - and his government’s subsequent stripping back of environmental protections, spiralling human rights abuses and surging deforestation rates – the deal’s ratification was put on ice.  

Now that Bolsonaro has gone, and his successor as President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, has pledged to stop illegal deforestation in the Amazon and elsewhere, the Agreement’s proponents are pushing heavily for its ratification.  

EMTA’s promoters are also heavily relying on the recently adopted EU Regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR) as a tool for helping curtail the deal’s potential negative impacts on South America’s forests and forest peoples.  

During a dialogue with the European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade, Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis said that the EUDR “can play a meaningful part in addressing sustainability challenges in the region.”  

This briefing discusses why the EUDR is not designed to prevent several foreseen negative impacts of the EMTA on forests and peoples. It shows, on the contrary, how the EMTA could actually jeopardise the EUDR’s integrity. It ends with recommendations on how to ensure that protecting forests and people are put at the EMTA’s heart.  

Categories: Briefing Notes, EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement, Brazil

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