Friends of the Earth Europe | 18 July 2023
EU-CELAC summit: 450+ organisations call to stop toxic EU-Mercosur deal
A coalition of more than 450 organisations from Latin America and Europe, including trade unions, peasants, social movements, animal activists and environmentalists criticised the announcement by leaders from the EU and Mercosur countries that they aim to resolve outstanding issues and conclude the EU-Mercosur trade agreement by the end of 2023.
Lis Cunha, Greenpeace Germany trade campaigner said:
“This trade deal is a disaster for people, animals and nature. More secret talks will only lead to a result which puts forests, the climate and human rights under unbearable pressure. Instead of pushing ahead with an agreement designed for corporate exploitation, the EU and Mercosur countries should start afresh and rethink their relationship in a way that puts the planet, people, and animals above the destruction of our planet for short-term profits.”
Alberto Villarreal, from Amigos de la Tierra América Latina y Caribe (ATALC) said:
“No extra environmental protocol will ever be able to remove the threats to people, territories and planet that are embedded in this neocolonial and perversely corporate profit-driven free-trade agreement. We need enforceable multilateral socio-environmental agreements based on differentiated responsibilities and capacities to bring GHG emissions down, not false market-based solutions, net zero promises or dispute panels in free trade agreements that are totally biased in favour of corporate profits.”
Morgan Ody, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina and member of European Coordination Via Campesina, said:
“Free trade agreements are making it impossible for medium- and small-scale farmers to make a living out of agriculture, which is why peasants are against them. Farmers on both sides don’t want to produce to export and compete, we want to produce to feed local communities, giving priority to local, national and regional trade above international trade. We call on members of the European Parliament and governments on both continents to unite as allies for food sovereignty and increase the pressure to tear up the EU-Mercosur deal.”
On 17 and 18 July, heads of state and government from the EU and from Latin America and the Caribbean gathered in Brussels for a special summit for the first time in eight years.
Parallel to the start of the summit, on Monday 17 July, activists from more than 50 civil society organisations built and tore down a giant three metre high “EU-Mercosur Greed Jenga Tower” in front of the European Parliament in Brussels in protest against the trade agreement and to call on policy-makers from both sides of the Atlantic to stop the negotiations for the sake of people, animals and the planet. Images for use can be accessed here (if using, please indicate (c) Johanna de Tessieres/Greenpeace).
As recently as late May, the European Commission had touted this summit as an important milestone for EU-Mercosur trade negotiations, which have been going on for over 20 years. Since Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took over as President of Brazil in January 2023, negotiations behind closed doors have focused on an annex to the agreement. A draft of the annex was leaked in March 2023.
The proposed EU-Mercosur deal has come under fire from several governments and parliaments, as well as farmers, trade unions and civil society from both sides of the Atlantic, as a disaster for local agriculture, nature, workers, local industry, human and animal rights, biodiversity and the climate. Assessments from several organisations show that lower tariffs and controls on products like car parts, pesticides from Europe and beef and poultry from South American countries will increase the already alarming rate at which nature is destroyed.
Over 200 organisations call on policy-makers to stand up for the democratic scrutiny of trade agreements and to oppose the European Commission’s attempts to approve the ‘trade’ part of the deal without the unanimous support of EU member states and without national ratification by parliaments throughout the EU. Such a manoeuvre would be a violation of the negotiating mandate that EU member states gave to the Commission, according to a recent legal analysis.