Agriculture and environmental clubs want real change in Mercosur

An umbrella of dozens of European and South American agricultural clubs and environmental and development organizations are urging the European Commission to make real changes to the Mercosur treaty in a joint manifesto.

They call for an immediate halt to administrative adjustments to the trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries. The coalition of agricultural and environmental clubs not only plead adverse effects on agriculture and food production, but also unfair trade, damage to the environment and disruption of trade relations.

The umbrella organization of more than 100 organizations, including Copa-Cosega, has already sounded the alarm with the European Commission, after which Brussels said that it wants to make additional agreements with the Mercosur countries about compliance with modern (read; European) environmental criteria. This would mainly apply to Brazil, which must put an end to the cutting down of the Amazon jungle in order to establish mega-maize plantations there.

Several EU countries think that adding an additional, explanatory 'annex' to the treaty on the controversial deforestation could be a solution, but the dozens of organizations call such a thing 'green washing'; justify something with (false) environmental arguments.

If approved, the Mercosur treaty between the EU and South American countries would expand bilateral trade and reduce tariffs. “We need a strong and reliable relationship with Mercosur. Cooperation instead of competition and solidarity instead of exploitation should be the guiding principle,” says Theresa Kofler, coordinator of the Anders Handel platform, an alliance of 

Christiane Lambert, president of Copa, representing the EU farmers, says the deal has a negative impact on many vulnerable European agricultural sectors, as the bargaining power of the European farmers goes to that of the major market participants in the Mercosur countries.

The beef, poultry, sugar, ethanol, rice, orange juice and honey sectors are identified by Copa as some of the European sectors most likely to be harmed by Mercosur. In addition, farmers in Brazil alone use 27 herbicides and insecticides that are banned in Europe, raising concerns about future imports and food safety.