MEPs debate Mercosur agreement compatibility with Green Deal goals

The EU-Mercosur trade agreement and whether the accord is compatible with the new European Green Deal was a key topic for debate in the European Parliament earlier today, Wednesday, December 18.

The EU and Mercosur group of countries – namely Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – reached an agreement on a trade pact covering a population of 780 million people on Friday, June 28, 2019.

For the agreement to enter into force, the European Parliament needs to agree to it, however.

The European Green Deal, presented on Wednesday, December 11, in the parliament, aims to make Europe the first continent to be climate-neutral.

While the European Commission, Council, and several MEPs are “convinced the trade agreement toes the line laid out by the Green Deal programme” and would “give leverage to the EU” to pursue its climate goals and impose its environmental, labour and human rights standards, other MEPs disagreed.

Their main concerns focus on enforceability of sustainable trade rules and on Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro’s policies in Amazonia.

In a lively debate this evening, MEPs ranged from describing opposition to the trade agreement as “fear-mongering”, to reminders that Brazil was one of the reasons for the failure of the recent COP25 climate conference.

Speaking at the beginning of the debate, trade commissioner Phil Hogan said the agreement with Mercosur would help achieve the goals of the Green Deal though its trade and sustainable development rules.

These he said include, among others, a legally binding commitment to implement the Paris Agreement, and it addresses several important elements of the climate program including biodiversity, waste management, deforestation.

Tytti Tuppurainen of the Finnish Council presidency, admitting that discussions in the council are in an early stage, said council sees the trade agreement as a way to export the EU standards on sustainable economy, and a vehicle to convince others to be more green.

“We are confident that the binding agreement on the implementation of the Paris Agreement will provide necessary EU leverage to pursue our ambitious sustainability and climate goals,” Tuppurainen said.