The ratification of the draft trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur Free Trade Area or the Southern Common Market – which includes Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina – has been almost questionable since its announcement last June. A test for Brazil`s new status as a centre will be set up next year, as all countries in the Paris Agreement will announce new national targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by November 2021, when the next UN climate change conference will be held in Glasgow. Deforestation accounted for 44% of Brazil`s emissions in 2019. When the agreement was signed in the summer of 2019, the European Commission had not yet finalised the final sustainability report (AIS) on Mercosur`s environmental performance. «The European Commission has ignored its legal obligation to ensure that the trade agreement with the Mercosur Group of South American countries does not lead to social, economic, ecological and human rights violations,» the letter says. «That is why we are currently in contact with the Mercosur authorities, I would say especially with Brazil. Now, informally, at present, to see what reasonable commitments Mercosur countries can make to ensure a successful ratification of this agreement. The Brazilian president`s position on deforestation remains a stumbling block in the South American agreement to be forwarded to the EU Ombudsman – a channel through which civil society can question the functioning of the European Commission – claiming that the EU`s executive body signed the agreement without a full assessment of its future impact on the environment. The critical pressure increased last week when 265 European and Latin American organisations sent a letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 28 EU member states asking them to reject the Mercosur agreement. Last month, Client Earth and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), along with other non-profit organisations, filed a formal complaint with the European Commission seeking to suspend the contract. Fearing Macron`s attitude, French and Brazilian businessmen (particularly Brazilian agricultural interests) are pushing their respective governments to ease tensions between the two countries in favour of the mercosur trade agreement with the EU. Diplomats from both countries will participate in a video conference tomorrow, Tuesday, during which they will review their bilateral agenda.
Although Germany is one of the biggest supporters of the trade agreement, Georg Witschel, who is leaving his post as ambassador to Brazil and returning to Berlin, said in June: «Our government knows that with increasing deforestation in Brazil, it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain a majority in our Congress and the European Parliament. The free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur, concluded a year ago in June of this year, meets, in addition to Latin American institutions, growing opposition from European national governments, European parliamentarians and non-profit organisations and jeopardises their ratification. The organizations condemn the De Bolsonaro government`s position on human rights and the environment and say that the trade agreement will worsen environmental degradation and the climate crisis with the dramatic expansion of monocultures of raw materials, including soybean production, in the Amazon rainforest. If the ue-mercuseur treaty – the largest global agreement ever negotiated – is adopted, it will create an open market of 780 million people with a gross domestic product (GDP) of $19 trillion between the two blocs. The pact is of great value to both parties: in EU countries, most export tariffs to Mercosur are abolished, including for cars and chemicals; while the South American bloc, which includes Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay, will benefit from an exemption from import taxes on 81.7% of agricultural products. When the agreement was signed last year, Brazilian Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina said she would encourage the modernization of