The EU should make the EU-Mercosur Agreement compatible with the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy


The EU should make the EU-Mercosur Agreement compatible with the Green Deal and the Farm to Fork strategy

20 May 2021
On 20 May, EU trade ministers will adopt their conclusions on the Trade Policy Review. As the review failed to address the impact of trade on animals, and to adapt EU trade policy to the challenges we face in the 21st century, we call on the EU to make a u-turn and finally ensure that its trade policy does not fuel unsustainable trade. Renegotiating the EU-Mercosur agreement to align the FTA with the objectives expressed in the Farm to Fork Strategy would be a first step in the right direction.

The Farm-to-Fork strategy called on the EU to use its trade policy to not only “enhance cooperation with” but also to “obtain ambitious commitments from third countries in key areas such as animal welfare”. This is what the EU should do, no less. 

However, the Trade Policy Review falls short of such objectives Indeed, the review does not address the impacts of trade on animal welfare, and, hence, misses the opportunity to adapt EU trade policy to the challenges of our times, such as the spread of zoonoses, climate change and antimicrobial resistance. 

The EU-Mercosur agreement, which is also high on the agenda, exemplifies the shortcomings of the current EU trade policy. As it stands now, the agreement is a bad deal for animals, nature and people. The text grants more market access for animal products without any condition related to animal welfare or sustainability, and it will further fuel the intensification of animal farming, both in the EU (dairy and pig meat) and in Mercosur countries (beef, chicken). In addition, the cooperation mechanisms put in place on animal welfare and on Trade and Sustainable Development are weak. They cannot be enforced in the absence of political willingness or resources.

In that context, Eurogroup for Animals calls on the EU to uphold the objectives of the Farm to Fork Strategy, and to negotiate the adoption by Mercosur countries of EU-equivalent legal standards in key sectors (cattle, broiler chicken, laying hens), as well as in terms of transport, or to agree on animal welfare and sustainability-based conditions required to access tariff-rate quotas or liberalisation in animal products, including the respect of EU-equivalent animal welfare standards. Concerns raised by the civil society, and now supported by the European Parliament and various Member States, cannot be solved by simply adding a protocol to the agreement.

As the Trade Policy Review rightly mentioned, the “EU’s trade policy has to adapt and reflect the challenges of our times and the expectations of our people”. Therefore, we call on the EU to respond to citizens' expectations on using trade policy to promote animal welfare, and to put forward concrete tools to align the EU trade policy with the Green Deal, including conditions linked to market access and the strengthening of enforcement mechanisms of Trade and Sustainable Development Chapters in Free Trade Agreements, with a possibility to introduce sanctions as a last resort.