Thursday

21st Nov 2019

EU to discuss Brazil beef ban over Amazon fires

  • Brazil is the world's top beef exporter (Photo: Eduardo Amorim)

The EU ought to consider banning Brazilian beef unless it takes action on forest fires, Finland, the holder of the EU presidency, has said.

"The EU and Finland are urgently exploring the possibility of banning imports of Brazilian beef," Mika Lintila, the Finnish finance minister, announced on Twitter on Friday (23 August).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 year's of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

  • Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro (l) ridiculed France, Norway, and Germany (Photo: Palácio do Planalto)

"Finance ministers are responsible for a number of instruments ... to mitigate climate change. These actions threaten to be rendered useless if carbon sinks are systematically destroyed," he added.

EU finance ministers would discuss the ban at an informal meeting in Helsinki on 13 September if there was "no progress before then", he noted.

EU foreign ministers will already discuss the situation more broadly at an informal meeting next Thursday, Finnish foreign minister Pekka Haavisto also said on Friday.

And the two ministers have the full support of Finnish leader Antti Rinne, who said the same day: "I contacted the European Commission yesterday evening, and I expect that the EU will take action".

He did not mention the beef ban, but he said: "It goes without saying that in terms of climate change, the world cannot sustain such fires".

Brazil's embassy to the EU could not comment because its ambassador was on holiday.

A commission spokeswoman said EU officials would react to Finland's beef idea once they had found out more about it.

The EU buys 120,000 tonnes a year of beef from Brazil, about one tenth of its total beef exports, and pays some of the highest prices for prime cuts.

European imports were set to increase due to tariff cuts under a new trade deal between the EU and Mercosur, a South American bloc.

But France and Ireland have also said they would not sign the trade pact unless Brazil tries to stop the blaze.

"There is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments," Irish leader Leo Varadkar said on Friday.

"In these conditions, France will oppose the Mercosur deal as it is," French president Emmanuel Macron's spokesman also told the Reuters news agency.

Undiplomatic

Using undiplomatic language, the Elysee spokesman accused Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro of having "lied" to Macron on climate promises at a recent summit in Japan.

A Finnish diplomat told EUobserver that Helsinki had not yet taken a position on Mercosur trade.

In separate action, Germany (€35m a year) and Norway (€30m a year) have frozen deforestation aid to Brazil.

The fires have been linked to the far-right Bolsonaro's permits for cutting down trees to help big business.

Macron earlier said the blaze would be discussed by G7 leaders meeting in France this weekend.

But Bolsonaro told him to butt out, while accusing him of "a misplaced colonialist mindset".

"Isn't Norway that country that kills whales up there in the North Pole? Take that money and help [German leader] Angela Merkel reforest Germany," he also said on Norway.

Commission defends Mercosur trade deal

EU commissioners defended a far-reaching free trade agreement between the EU and four Latin American countries, against critics who fear it will damage European farmers' livelihoods and the global environment.

Opinion

How EU firms and banks help fund Amazon fires

Deutsche Bank, BNP Paribas, Blackrock, and Vanguard collectively own more than $1.1bn in debt in the three largest soy, and the three largest cattle companies, and own $6bn worth of shares in these companies.

Opinion

Amazon fires mean EP must rethink Mercosur trade deal

The European parliament debates on Tuesday the fires in the Amazon region. "It goes without saying that, in light of the gravity of the situation, Europe will need to renegotiate the Mercosur agreement", writes MEP Kathleen Van Brempt.

Agenda

Europe goes to New York This WEEK

Iran and climate change likely to dominate as French president Emmanuel Macron speaks for Europe at the UN general assembly in New York this week.

Focus

Thunberg rejects climate prize in hometown Stockholm

The Nordic Council's prestigious annual awards ceremony this year turned into a youth revolt, with climate activist Greta Thunberg declining the environment prize and another winner criticising the Danish prime minister for racism.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  3. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  5. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  6. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  7. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  9. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021

Latest News

  1. New calls for Muscat to resign over journalist's murder
  2. Tusk pledges 'fight' for EU values as new EPP president
  3. Don't lead Europe by triggering its fears
  4. Finland: EU 'not brain dead' on enlargement
  5. The labour market is not ready for the future
  6. Parliament should have 'initiation' role
  7. AI skewed to young, male, and western EU, report warns
  8. US and EU go separate ways on Israeli settlers

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us