MercoPress | 27 June 2023
Mercosur/EU trade accord: Lula describes EU amendments as ’unacceptable”, but will continue talks
Brazilian president Lula da Silva reiterated his support for the signing of the agreement between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur but expressed his dissatisfaction with the additional terms proposed by the European bloc, calling them “unacceptable.”
During a press conference at the conclusion of his visit to Italy, the Worker’s Party leader acknowledged the challenges surrounding the negotiations but emphasized that they are not insurmountable. He also highlighted his commitment to the environment and criticized what he perceives as Europe’s excessive protectionism in the agricultural sector.
Lula, who traveled to France shortly after the press conference, shared his perspective on the French request for punitive measures against South American countries that fail to comply with the Paris Agreement. He pointed out that even the Europeans themselves are not fully up to date with their promises under this landmark climate pact signed in 2015. The agreement requires countries to set voluntary targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, subject to review every five years.
“I intend to discuss this matter with President Emmanuel Macron because France strongly defends its agricultural interests,” Lula stated, acknowledging the importance of such defense but emphasizing that other nations also have a stake in protecting their agriculture. He added, “Everyone needs to relinquish their protectionist stance so that we can forge a better agreement.”
While in France, Lula’s primary focus is the Summit for a New Global Financial Pact, organized by Macron, which aims to “re-imagine the structure of the global financial system” to address inequality and confront the climate crisis—two other key priorities of Lula’s government. Nevertheless, the EU-Mercosur agreement will be a topic of discussion during the lunch meeting between the two leaders.
During a recent live stream on the 19th, Lula had already indicated his intention to confront Macron regarding the hardening of the agreement. Last week, with votes from the ruling coalition, the French National Assembly set forth conditions for approving a potential trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur, urging the French government to oppose the treaty.
Conditions include requiring South American farmers to adhere to the same environmental and health regulations as those in Europe, as well as the inclusion of a clause to suspend the agreement’s implementation if Mercosur nations fail to comply with the Paris Agreement. Although this act holds no legal force and is considered symbolic, it occurred shortly after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s visit to Brazil, during which Lula reaffirmed his government’s commitment to finalizing the agreement.
Mercosur and the EU reached an agreement in 2019 after more than two decades of negotiations. However, the pact has yet to be ratified, partly due to European concerns over the environmental policies of former President Jair Bolsonaro (2019-2022). Lula’s return to power in January has improved the prospects, but the environmental requirements outlined in an additional document recently presented by the EU have tempered the initial enthusiasm.