As Europe’s trade ministers gather on 9 March for an informal trade Council, environmental, animal protection and trade groups denounce the Commission’s closed-door negotiations with Mercosur countries that aim to push through a controversial Free Trade Agreement (FTA), that has been the subject of public outrage and been rejected by national parliaments across the EU (for instance Austria and the Netherlands).
The lack of democratic debate and transparency around the protocol further damages the legitimacy of the EU and risks weakening European and national parliaments’ ability to comprehensively debate the consequences of the trade agreement.
The EU-Mercosur FTA has been dormant since the European Parliament and some Member States have refused to ratify it “as it stands” following massive civil society mobilisations from across the EU and South America denouncing the FTA as a bad deal for people, animals and the planet, that prioritises corporate profits at the expense of planetary boundaries. Now, the European Commission is seeking to revive stalled discussions with an “additional instrument” – or annex – that is being presented this week to Mercosur countries, and despite proof of the rampant devastation of the Amazon.
Audrey Changoe, trade campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe said:
“Yet again the Commission is showing its anti-democratic face by pushing the toxic EU-Mercosur deal across the finishing line. Despite public opposition from both sides of the Atlantic, the EU’s negotiators are still discussing the undisclosed annex in complete secrecy. Parliaments and civil society play a crucial role in scrutinising trade agreements as they are being negotiated, not once when they are ratified and it’s too late to reverse the impacts it will have.”
The European Union’s push for ratification of the EU-Mercosur deal is not supported by public opinion. Three-quarters of Europeans want the deal to be scrapped if it leads to deforestation and environmental damage.
European and South American civil society groups reiterate their calls to stop the deal and reject these additional annexes and protocols and call for a different kind of relationship between the continents.
Leah Sullivan from the Seattle to Brussels Network, continued:
“No greenwashed protocols or annexes can fix an inherently bad deal whose aim is to promote trade in products driving deforestation, land grabbing, massive pesticide use, carbon emissions and human rights violations. The good news is that an alternative model exists, which could both strengthen ties with the countries and populations of the Mercosur while basing our relations on sustainability and cooperation.”
Stéphanie Ghislain, political affairs manager at Eurogroup for Animals, concluded:
“The recent EU legislation on imported deforestation does not make the FTA acceptable, first and foremost because it cannot offset all the deforestation: it ignores many ecosystems that, just like the Amazon rainforest, are also destroyed by intensive animal agriculture. The scope of products it covers is very limited, as it does not include animal products derived from animals fed by soy on intensive farms. In addition, the EU still does not have any new import requirements related to animal welfare standards.”