Sunday

28th Feb 2021

Draft EU-Mercosur trade treaty leaked

  • Greenpeace is afraid that increased Mercosur meat exports to Europe would damage the Amazon rainforest (Photo: Neil Palmer (CIAT))

The Dutch office of environmental pressure group Greenpeace published 171 pages of classified documents detailing progress towards a free trade agreement between the EU and four Latin American countries on Wednesday (6 December).

The group said that the European Commission and the EU's national governments have failed to uphold their promise of more transparency on trade deals.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • One of Mercosur members, Argentina, is famous for its beef (Photo: Al Turner)

"Backroom trade talks undermine democracy and public trust in politicians," the campaign group said in a press release.

The documents provide an insight into the trade talks with Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay – the Mercosur bloc – but are also possibly out of date.

They include the EU's offer to Mercosur, dated simply 2016.

It said that Mercosur countries could export to the EU an additional 78,000 tonnes of beef; 12,250 tonnes of pork; 78,000 tonnes of poultry; 2,000 tonnes of sheep meat; 13,000 tonnes of milk powder; 4,000 tonnes of butter; 20,000 tonnes of cheese; 600,000 hectolitre of ethanol; 10,000 tonnes of garlic; 200,000 tonnes of soft wheat; 700,000 tonnes of maize and sorghum; 40,000 tonnes of rice; 1,100 tonnes of processed sugar; and 300 tonnes of processed cereal.

Europe's farmers are looking at the talks with apprehension, for fear of competition.

The bulk of the documents are a draft version of parts of the EU-Mercosur deal, dated 19 July 2017.

They give the status of the text, as well as where EU and Mercosur positions diverge, after a round of negotiations which occurred 3-7 July.

There have been two additional rounds of talks since, in October and November.

The papers are part of a package of documents sent to the Council of the EU's trade policy committee, which is made up of trade experts from national governments.

A cover note described 15 separate documents, but Greenpeace only released – or acquired – seven. Thus the specific details are lacking context.

It showed that the EU wanted – and that the Mercosur side had not yet agreed in July – that if a mark of origin label is required in a Mercosur country, that a 'Made in the EU' label would be accepted.

"For the purposes of the origin mark 'Made in the EU', each Mercosur Party shall treat the European Union as a single territory," the EU-proposed paragraph said.

The rationale behind this could be that EU countries who are less famous for a certain product could benefit from the EU stamp.

The EU also wanted , as of July, that the trade deal would hold Mercosur to a promise to uphold animal welfare, and to cooperate in combating antimicrobial resistance.

"The parties recognise that antibiotic resistance is a serious threat to human and animal health," the EU wanted the treaty to say.

The EU wanted the two sides to commit that they would "follow existing and future guidelines, standards, recommendations and actions developed in relevant international organisations, initiatives and national plans aiming to promote reduced use of antibiotics and relating to animal production and veterinary practices".

Fear for the environment

Greenpeace said the deal would harm the environment.

"Mercosur countries want to boost meat exports to Europe, which would push cattle farming into pristine habitats in the Amazon and the Cerrado regions in Brazil and the Chaco in Argentina. Why strike a trade deal that will mainly benefit European carmakers and industrial meat companies?" the group said.

The two sides seem to have agreed on some paragraphs on environmental protection.

"Each Party shall strive to improve its relevant laws and policies so as to ensure high and effective levels of environmental and labour protection," the draft text said.

It also acknowledged "the urgent threat of climate change".

However while Mercosur wanted to agree to "promote the positive contribution of trade to a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development and to increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change" – it wants to add the clause: "in a manner that does not threaten food production".

Meat production, in particular beef, is an important source of greenhouse gas emissions. It is also a main export product for Mercosur.

Greenpeace has leaked texts from EU trade negotiations before, and has campaigned actively against them.

EU in push to seal Latin American trade deal

In a race against the clock, EU commissioners and Mercosur ministers meet in Brussels to make concessions on beef, cheese and cars in preparation for an "endgame" in trade talks, ahead of Brazil's elections.

EU-Latin America trade talks move to 'endgame'

Senior negotiators in the EU-Mercosur talks will meet in Brussels on Friday to work out the technical bits of a possible trade deal, after top political officials gave the talks a final push.

Analysis

Why Brazil's election matters to Brussels

Jair Bolsonaro could render the EU's climate action meaningless, if the newly elected leader of Latin America's biggest country follows through with plans to allow massive deforestation.

News in Brief

  1. EU leaders restate defence 'autonomy' plan
  2. Rights group exposes Ethiopia massacre
  3. US carried out airstrikes against Iran-backed militia in Syria
  4. Malta closes investigation into journalist murder
  5. Dutch parliament calls China treatment of Uighurs genocide
  6. Spain fined €15m by ECJ over data failures
  7. Belarus: Anti-government protester jailed for 10 years
  8. German charged with spying for Russia in Bundestag

Vietnam jails journalist critical of EU trade deal

A journalist who had demanded the EU postpone its trade deal with Vietnam until human rights improved has been sentenced to 15 years in jail. The EU Commission says it first needs to conduct a detailed analysis before responding.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  3. CESIKlaus Heeger and Romain Wolff re-elected Secretary General and President of independent trade unions in Europe (CESI)
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersReport: The prevalence of men who use internet forums characterised by misogyny
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic climate debate on 17 November!

Latest News

  1. Armenia 'coup' shows waning of EU star in South Caucasus
  2. 'Difficult weeks' ahead, as variants spread across EU
  3. EU top court advised to strike down Hungary's asylum policy
  4. Frontex chief: 'about time' MEPs probe his agency
  5. Is EU poised to solve child labour in 'green' batteries?
  6. The trap of spreading ideas while attacking them
  7. Who are the EU's new Russian deplorables?
  8. Afghan asylum family beaten in Greece, set adrift at sea

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us