Thousands of farmers have been protesting across Europe in recent days, and many gather today in Brussels to denounce the unfair competition brought about by the implementation of Free Trade Agreements (FTA) like the EU-Mercosur, and the resulting poor working conditions and low income.
Friends of the Earth Europe, Eurogroup for Animals and the European Trade Justice Coalition (ETJC) share European farmers’ frustration over having to compete with imported products exempt from the EU environmental, labour and animal welfare standards. As President Macron, who reportedly asked the European Commission to stop the EU-Mercosur negotiations, meets Ursula Von der Leyen today at a summit of European Union leaders, groups reinforce the call to end the EU-Mercosur deal and stop other FTAs in progress.
Leah Sullivan, coordinator of ETJC, said:
“The crises of climate, workers rights and inequality we face can’t be solved by more outdated and unjust trade agreements, negotiated behind closed doors. We need a u-turn on trade policy and to put the planet, and people at the centre. The only reasonable call is for more countries to join France in their demand to put a full stop to this disastrous deal”.
Environmental, animal welfare, and trade justice NGOs also denounce current populist discourses seeking to blame green and progressive legislations for farmers’ unease. Farmers need fair and stable prices for more environmentally and animal welfare friendly produced food. In order to successfully transition to sustainable food systems and achieve food sovereignty, the EU must uphold the European Green Deal’s farming objectives and reform its Common Agricultural Policy.
Julie Zalcman, trade campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, continued:
“When thousands of farmers protest in Europe against unjust free trade agreements, a fight supported by environmentalists and a large part of civil society, how can the Commission still put corporate giants’ economic interests above our common well-being? The negotiations of the EU-Mercosur deal, a toxic and outdated deal, must stop now and for good.”
If implemented, the EU-Mercosur deal will create further unfair competition between European and South American farmers, reinforce the intensification of monocultures, intensive animal farming and extractive models in South America, and fuel deforestation, pesticide use and human rights violations. Those issues are inherent to the deal and cannot be fixed with a non-enforceable joint instrument, as proposed by the EU Commission.
Stephanie Ghislain, Political Affairs Manager at Eurogroup for Animals, commented:
“Even with the proposed joint instrument, the agreement would still increase the risks of animal cruelty, deforestation and human rights abuse due to the EU’s demand for commodities such as soya, beef, and poultry.”