What's behind the EU-MERCOSUR trade agreement

The EU-MERCOSUR association agreement, as it currently stands, does not safeguard the environment, the climate or our livelihoods. One of its key motivations is that of increasing imports of agricultural products like sugar, meat and soy from MERCOSUR countries while increasing exports of vehicles, textiles and chemicals, among other products, to those same countries. The agreement would thus bolster industries that are already key contributors to the climate crisis. Animal agriculture for instance is responsible for 14.5% of global greenhouse emissions, with beef and soy being the main drivers for illegal logging which makes up the majority of Amazon deforestation.

Such an agreement will also threaten local agriculture and food producers in our municipalities. Increased imports from countries on the other side of the Atlantic with lower land and labour costs as well as lower environmental and social standards will not only create unnecessary transport-based emissions but also result in price dumping, potentially devastating local businesses. This effect is projected even in the conservative model of the Sustainability Impact Assessment carried out for this agreement. Instead of basing trade on industrial agricultural models that focus on extraction and depletion, we need agreements fostering agriculture that both replenishes and regenerates local economies and ecosystems.

A threat to indigenous peoples

We, the Indigenous peoples, are the ones directly protecting the Amazon. With the ratification of the MERCOSUR trade agreement, the EU would give its approval to Bolsonaro’s genocide on the Indigenous peoples.” – Dinamam Tuxá, APIB

This year, as the Bolsonaro government further weakened illegal logging checks in face of the Covid-19 pandemic, total deforestation in the Brazilian rainforest has already increased by 25% from the same six-month period last year. Yet protecting the Amazon rainforest is essential: comprising an estimated 10% of total carbon storage globally, it is one of the world’s primary natural carbon sinks. As such, both the forest and the indigenous peoples who protect it are key to mitigating climate disasters in Europe and the rest of the world. Being one of the world’s largest biodiversity hotspots, it is also home to entire peoples and their cultures.

The ecosystem services it provides are vital to for us to adapt to an unavoidable global heating. Yet even in the conservative model of the Sustainability Impact Assessment, an increase in Amazon basin deforestation is expected, putting more pressure on already fragile ecosystems and indigenous communities alike and bringing the rainforest closer to an irreversible tipping point. Any claims that environmental impacts of the agreement have seriously been taken into consideration throughout negotiations thus far are fraudulent as the agreement’s Sustainability Impact Assessment was released in June 2020, one year after the negotiations on the trade part of the agreement were concluded.

An endorsement of environmental destruction

While this assessment claims that deforestation can be halted ‘provided that sound policies are in place’, the current Brazilian government has clearly stated plans to further weaken environmental legislation. Bolsonaro has openly declared his desire to wipe out indigenous peoples and the rainforest for economic short-term gain while consistently denying climate change. As he is far from an isolated occurrence, any deal negotiated must have inviolable social and environmental safeguards in place as outlined in our demands. We must ensure that no trade deal be made with governments that prioritise monetary profit over social and environmental welfare. Any agreement struck with the Bolsonaro government will be an endorsement of environmentally and socially disastrous policies, and is opposed to EU ideals and standards.

For those reasons, Climate Alliance advocates for a renegociation of the Mercosur trade agreement putting climate first and ensuring policy coherence at the EU level.

Learn more

      Climate Alliance materials

      EU materials

Photo: Victor Moriyama / Greenpeace