The Eu-Mercosur Trade Agreement

Several civil society organizations draw attention to the negative consequences of the agreement and ask if they are being addressed. These mainly concern sustainability issues, such as increased CO2 emissions, deforestation, the rights of indigenous peoples and antibiotic resistance. These are important issues on which we take a position in our analysis. The agreement includes commitments on sustainable fisheries and sustainable forest management. Mercosur countries represent a market of 260 million consumers for EU businesses, with an annual GDP of 2.2 trillion euros. The free trade agreement was concluded at a time of unstable trade relations with the United States, and was therefore hailed by both sides as a commitment to rules-based trade in an era of protectionism. This brief letter sets out what we know about the proposed trade agreement, what we do not yet know, and some of the effects on man and the forest. The fight against climate change, the preservation of forests and respect for the right of people to make decisions about their own lives can only take place if trade takes place in a way that promotes supply chains without deforestation and respects the rights of the community and indigenous peoples. The EU-Mercosur agreement is far from reaching this level.

As with all EU trade agreements, the Mercosur agreement will not change EU standards, including food standards, agricultural products and fisheries products. European standards are non-negotiable. The agreement will reduce and eliminate discrimination and expand opportunities for EU and Mercosur providers and investors. Negotiations began on 28 June 1999. After the suspension of the talks, negotiations resumed in 2010. The long-standing negotiations gave new impetus in 2016, when the EU and Mercosur each submitted new offers to reduce tariffs. On 28 June 2019, the European Union and Mercosur reached a political agreement on an ambitious, balanced and comprehensive trade agreement. The new trade framework, part of a broader association agreement between the two regions, will strengthen a strategic political and economic partnership. The trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), negotiated for 20 years and often referred to as the “car for beef”, has been the subject of much criticism, including from governments of Member States such as France and Ireland.

The parliaments of Austria, Wallonia and, more recently, the Netherlands, have even rejected the agreement in its current form. The Dutch Parliament`s resolution of 2 June 2020 highlights in particular the difference between European standards for hygiene of imported and European products and the resulting unfair competition for European farmers and deplores the lack of a binding clause to protect the Amazon and combat illegal deforestation.