The EU should make a u-turn and stop the EU-Mercosur trade agreement


The EU should make a u-turn and stop the EU-Mercosur trade agreement

20 May 2021
Press Release
Today, trade ministers meet in Brussels to discuss, amongst other issues, the state of play on the EU-Mercosur Agreement and how additional protocols and annexes could save the deal. The outgoing Portuguese Presidency is the second in a row failing to start the ratification processes because of the huge success of civil society criticising its enormous downsides.

For immediate release: Brussels, 20 May 2021 

A broad coalition of civil society groups both from South America and Europe reiterates its calls to stop the deal and rejects cosmetic procedures such as annexes and protocols. There are structural problems with the agreement, which aims to increase exports in products which contribute to more deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions, human rights violations and animal suffering. 

Moreover, recent developments, specifically in Brazil, prove that any sustainability annex (in relation to deforestation, climate change, human rights) is contradicted and undermined by what is happening on the ground and make such provisions meaningless:

  • Deforestation has skyrocketed 
  • The new laws are dangerous for indigenous groups and the environment 
  • While the deal will increase food imports to the EU, 474 new pesticides have been approved, many of those being banned in the EU 
  • Environmental protection agencies are being dismantled 
  • Attacks on indigenous people are increasing 

Throughout the week, people from all over Europe took action in the streets to demonstrate the widespread opposition the agreement faces by (civil) society. Stephanie Ghislain from Eurogroup for Animals says “The EU-Mercosur deal is in direct opposition to climate action, food sovereignty and upholding human rights and animal well-being. Therefore, we need a u-turn for the European trade policy: leaving climate destruction, human and animal rights violations behind and moving towards a sustainable and social international trade based on solidarity for all“. 

The week of actions follows the creation of a large-scale coalition of civil society groups, including major trade unions, climate groups, animal protection organisations, farmers, environmental organisations as well as human rights groups. More than 450 organisations from South America and the EU joined forces to stop this trade deal

Bettina Müller, from Powershift adds: “Trade ministers have a responsibility to listen to citizens and stop this deal. According to a recent poll 75% of citizens in 12 European countries oppose the deal if it leads to more deforestation”.

At the moment, the European Commission is trying to save the deal with protocols and annexes. However, those instruments cannot fix the manifold and structural problems of this agreement whose main aim is to increase trade in products like soy and beef.

These problems cannot be fixed with protocols and annexes. Only recently a legal study commissioned by Greenpeace, MISEREOR and CIDSE, found that neither protocols nor interpretative declarations are enough to fix the problems of this agreement. “This deal belongs to an outdated version of free trade that profits large corporations while it destroys our planet. What we need is a u-turn of the EU’s trade policy to protect people and the planet,” adds Martin Konecny from Seattle to Brussels.

As trade ministers meet in Brussels it is time for them to acknowledge that this deal has no future and to ask the European Commission to stop further pushing for it. “We are not against economic relations with Mercosur countries, but those must be grounded in new negotiations based on the principles of  solidarity, protection of human rights and our planetary boundaries”, Theresa Kofler from Anders Handeln Austria concludes.


Press contacts

Agnese Marcon, Interim Communications Manager, Eurogroup for Animals
+32 (0) 456 078 038

Martin Konecny, Coordinator of the Seattle to Brussels Network 
+43 (0) 699 115 512 23

Theresa Kofler, Coordinator at Anders Handeln – Globalisierung gerecht gestalten Austria
+43 (0) 680 154 50 19

Bettina Müller, PowerShift e.V.
+49 174 4537604

Eurogroup for Animals represents 70 animal advocacy organisations in 26 EU Member States, Switzerland, Serbia, Norway, Australia and the USA. Since its inception in 1980, the organisation has succeeded in encouraging the EU to adopt higher legal standards for animal protection. Eurogroup for Animals reflects public opinion through its membership organisations’ affiliations across the Union, and has both the scientific and technical expertise to provide authoritative advice on issues relating to animal welfare. 

Seattle to Brussels Network  is a network of development, environment, human rights, women’s and farmers’ organisations, trade unions, social movements and research institutes. The network was formed in the aftermath of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) 1999 Seattle Ministerial to challenge the corporate-driven trade agenda of the European Union and European governments. It has also developed as a response to the increasing need for European co-ordination among civil society organisations.

Anders Handeln – Globalisierung gerecht gestalten is an Austrian alliance civil society organizations from agricultural, cultural, trade union, church, feminist, environmental, development and trade policy sectors. The alliance has been working together against TTIP and CETA and campaigning against neoliberal free trade agreements ever since. Alternatively it promotes a completely new trade and investment policy that puts people and nature at the center and not the profit of a few.

The Power Shift Network mobilizes the collective power of young people to mitigate climate change and create a just, clean energy future and resilient, thriving communities for all.