Fern | 2 June 2020
The EU-Mercosur trade agreement: What is it, and what could it mean for forests and human rights?
In June 2019 the European Union (EU) and Mercosur (Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay) announced that they had reached an ‘in principle’ agreement on the content of a bilateral trade agreement which they had been negotiating, on and off, for over 20 years. Most of the text of the trade agreement is now public in draft form, although some important annexes and the framing preamble are not available. This may be because they are still being worked out, behind closed doors.
This briefing note lays out what we know about the proposed trade agreement, what we do not yet know, and some of the implications for people and forests. Addressing climate change, keeping forests standing and respecting people’s right to make decisions about their own lives can only happen if trade is carried out in a way that promotes deforestation-free supply chains and respects community and Indigenous Peoples’ rights. The EU-Mercosur agreement is far from reaching that standard.
We hope this briefing will provide a discussion for NGOs in Brazil who want to understand the implications of this deal for people and forests and take action
In an open letter published June 2019, over 340 civil society organisations demanded that the EU immediately halt Free Trade Agreement negotiations with the Mercosur bloc on the grounds of deteriorating human rights and environmental conditions in Brazil. Some Members States have also expressed concerns about the deal.
Despite the concerns, the Commission and most EU Member States maintain business as usual and want us to believe the deal will contribute to the environmental protection and the respect of human rights.
Voices from potentially affected peoples in Mercosur countries, communities and Indigenous Peoples have not been sufficiently heard. A massive mobilisation of civil society is needed both in the EU and Mercosur countries to alert decision makers and the public about the risks and reshape the deal to place the environment and human rights at its heart.