New postponement for Mercosur due to resistance from Argentina and France

Negotiations on the Mercosur trade agreement will not be reopened next week. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was expected to chair the final round of the South American-Europe summit on December 7, but her role at that summit has now been minimized. 

A new president was elected in Argentina last week who is against the current treaty. Argentina has told Brazil, the current rotating chairman of Mercosur, that it will not be able to make any new commitments and that it plans to leave the decisions to their new president Javier Milei. The December 7 summit comes days before Milei's inauguration.

French President Emmanuel Macron also raised new objections shortly afterwards. According to Macron, the environmental commitments that Brussels has received are not enough. 

Macron said he "cannot ask our farmers, our industrialists in France and across Europe to make an effort to reduce CO2 emissions while we remove tariffs on imports that are not subject to these rules." He said this this weekend to Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva at the COP-28 conference in Dubai.

The trade deal between EU and the four Mercosur countries has been discussed for about two decades. The pact would create an integrated market of 780 million consumers, making it the largest free trade agreement in the history of the EU. But market disruption is feared, especially in agricultural circles in the EU countries, because South American imports are not subject to all kinds of environmental laws applicable in Europe.

There has been strong opposition to the possible agreement in several European countries for some time, including in the Netherlands. The Netherlands must make it “clear and obvious” in Brussels that agriculture should not be part of the trade agreement, a parliamentary majority agreed earlier this year. According to them, the safety of imported meat is also at stake and it leads to additional deforestation of the Amazon.