The economies of Brazil and the EU are deeply entwined. The EU is the world’s largest single market, and Brazil’s second largest trading partner.
A huge part of this trade centres around the agricultural goods which are driving the destruction of the Amazon and the Cerrado.
The EU is the second biggest market for Brazilian soy and a significant importer of Brazilian beef. Evidence linking these industries to social conflict, land grabs and deforestation is overwhelming. Yet it seems that the EU is willing to ignore this and expand its role in these harmful sectors with increased trade.
In June 2019, after 20 years of negotiations, the EU finalised a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the Mercosur bloc of nations, of which Brazil is the largest member. If unopposed, this deal will allow the import of 99,000 tonnes of beef tariff-free - sacrificing forests and rights on the altar of trade.
But it’s not too late to act, and the momentum to stop the deal is gathering pace.
The Austrian, Walloon and Netherlands parliaments have all rejected the Mercosur deal in its current form, and highest political representatives of France and Ireland have expressly criticised it. It seems they also have the support of some powerful financial players.
This month European investors managing trillions of dollars of assets wrote an open letter warning that they could withdraw their investments in Brazil because increasing deforestation and the “dismantling” of policies to protect the environment and Indigenous Peoples are “creating widespread uncertainty”.
With Germany assuming the EU Council Presidency this week, now is the time for those calling for the EU to discard the Mercosur agreement, to raise their voices - and for the EU to underline its commitment to protecting human rights and the environment.