Pledge Times | 28 November 2022
What are the green promises that would facilitate the EU agreement with Mercosur ?
The executive arm of the European Union is set to propose a series of environmental and climate commitments in an attempt to Facilitate the approval of a historic trade agreement with four South American countries.
The proposal, which is being finalized, would be binding on both parties and would specify how to apply the sustainable development commitments included in the text negotiated with the Mercosur trade bloc, according to people familiar with the matter. The group includes Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay.
The so-called additional instrument would focus on the fight against deforestationthe implementation of Paris climate agreementthe protection of biodiversity and labor rights, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter was confidential.
The annex had been required by some Member States, including France, due to concerns about the Amazon deforestation in the administration of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who will leave power this year and will be succeeded by the former left-wing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Lula da Silva’s victory in the elections last month brought new impetus to agreeing on the green instrument and giving final approval to the agreement with Mercosur.
Negotiations with the South American bloc ended in 2019 after nearly two decades of talks.
The trade agreement would be the largest that the European Union has concluded in terms of tariff savingspotentially reaching $4.2 billion annually.
Agreement, the first free trade agreement signed by Mercosur with an important trading partnerwould also strengthen the protection of European geographical indications, such as Rioja wine or some Italian cheeses.
The Commission plans to present the additional instrument to the Member States and the European Parliament in the coming weeks. Negotiations with the South American countries will begin once the new Lula government takes office, starting on January 1, 2023.
Europe seeks greater clarity for alliance with South American countries
“The objective is to provide greater clarity and detail to the commitments already negotiated by both parties as part of the agreement, especially in the chapter on trade and sustainable development,” said Commission spokeswoman Miriam García-Ferrer.
“The Agreement offers us solid tools to engage with Mercosur on global challenges, from climate change and biodiversity to labor rights,” he added.
Xiana Méndez, Secretary of State for Trade at the Spanish Ministry of Industry, said the additional instrument must be “ambitious and credible enough so that we can tell our public opinion that deforestation in the Amazon will not occur through trade.”
The instrument will also strengthen cooperation in prosecuting trade-related environmental crimes, he said.
Mendez said that this is the time when there is a realistic opportunity to move forward in finalizing the trade deal and that member states with some concerns now have a more constructive view.
In fact, sources close to the process revealed that Spain intends to give a great boost to conclude the approval process during his rotating EU presidency in the second half of next year.
“In the current international context, the shared idea among the member states is that the EU has to play its cards well to ensure its resilience and competitiveness in order to have a greater geopolitical weight,” including in the South American region, Méndez said.