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EU seeks to reestablish negotiations with Mercosur

Buenos Aires Herald | 5 May 2010

Blocked since 2004: EU seeks to reestablish negotiations with Mercosur

The European Commission (EC) has proposed to reactivate its negotiations with the Mercosur bloc, stagnant since 2004, with the objective of reaching an association agreement.

The EU executive has decided, in its weekly meeting, to re-establish discussions with the Latin American bloc, since it considers "that an eventual pact could generate economic benefits for both parts," according to an EC communiqué.

For the EU Spanish presidency, an agreement with Mercosur is a priority.

Spain seeks to boost commitment to conclude a treaty in the near future with the Latin American bloc during the EU-Latin America and the Caribbean summit to be held in Madrid on May 17 and 18.

EC president, José Manuel Durao Barroso, declared that the reactivation of negotiations is an important opportunity: "Given the fact that we seek to strengthen the global economy after the crisis, a successful result could offer benefits in terms of employment and growth for both parts."

However, Barroso said this is just a beginning and that the EC will put conditions on the negotiations, among them those regarding intellectual property rights or those relating to the appellations of origin.

Likewise, the EC will study the measures needed to ameliorate the "adverse impact" in sectors such as agriculture, which is the main point of discrepancy and a topic in which Mercosur asks for concessions from the 27 community countries.

More precisely, in the discussion within the EC there have been commissaries who have warned of the damage that an agreement could produce to European agriculture, such as the Interior Market commissary, French-man Michel Barnier, and the Investigation commissary, Irish-woman Máire Geoghegan-Quinn.

On his part, the European commissary of Commerce, Karel De Gucht, manifested in a communiqué that any agreement "should be ambitious and should increase the access to EU businesses that Mercosur nations have, including agriculture markets."

The EC calculates that for the EU, a pact would bring an annual economic benefit of 4.5 billion in exports, and that Mercosur would obtain similar earnings.

The EU will pursue the liberation of trade in the greater part of the industrial products and in the services sector.

Mercosur is a bloc with great potential, since its GDP reaches 1.3 billion Euros, an amount greater than those from countries such as South Korea, India, or Russia; in the last few years, the growth rate has ranged between 4 and 6 percent in Brazil and between 6 and 9 percent in Argentina.

In other occasions, the European Agriculture commissary, Dacian Ciolos, warned of the effects on the community sector the opening to Mercosur products could produce.

 source: Buenos Aires Herald