Deforestation of the Amazon, the big obstacle for a Mercosur deal
The European Commission (EC) will not launch the process of ratifying the free trade agreement with Mercosur until it identifies important results in the environmental area in the countries of the southern cone, announced the vice-president of the Commission, Valdis Dombrovkis, during a hearing at the International Trade Commission of the European Parliament. Several countries in the bloc have raised questions about environmental issues raised by the deforestation of the Amazon and the compliance with European rules. A growing number of country states and interested parties underline the significance of sustainable development in Mercosur countries, supporting the Paris Agreement and stopping deforesting, especially in Brazil. These issues must be addressed seriously and the European Commission expects to reach an understanding with Mercosur members," said Dombrovkis.
Among the countries that are critical about the environmental policies in Brazil are France, Germany and Ireland. Some other EU member states such as Poland are worried about the opening of the single market to products that don't comply with the safety standards in the EU and are pointing to Brazil as well, targeting the "tinted meat" scandal.
The EU Domestic Market Commissioner Thierry Breton admitted that EU nations remain divided regarding the EU/Mercosur trade deal because of the deforestation going on in the Amazon and the compliance with European rules.
“Not all of us are aligned on this issue, and we definitively need to hold further discussions among ourselves”, Breton said. The EU/Mercosur agreement was reached in June 2019, following twenty years of negotiations, and to become effective needs the ratification of all countries involved, 27 in the EU and four from Mercosur.
At the time the Brazilian administration of president Bolsonaro celebrated the event as a great triumph of foreign policy but never stopped antagonizing several EU members on environmental issues, rapidly reinforcing resistance to the trade deal.
France which was never enthusiastic with the deal exposing concerns regarding its agriculture sector ended leading the resistance. Last year, President Emmanuel Macron insisted on the implementation of greater environmental protection by Brazil, as a condition to ratify, a position that was reaffirmed by the French government at the end of September. France put forward three demands to Mercosur: stop deforestation; respect and compliance with the Paris agreement on climate and that produce imported from Mercosur abide by European environment and sanitary rules. So far, Austria, Holland, Luxemburg, Ireland and Belgium have announced they will not support ratification of the Mercosur deal.
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