Leaked annex to the EU-Mercosur deal confirms weak sustainability goals
Documents shared by the press and civil society organisations have revealed that the EU-Mercosur deal’s proposed annex, supposedly intended to address the sustainability related issues of the free trade agreement (FTA), is merely an interpretative protocol confirming the weak sustainability commitments of the FTA.
Eurogroup for Animals regrets that the interpretative protocol leaked by civil society organisations fails to offset the negative consequences of the FTA, meaning that the EU-Mercosur deal remains a bad deal for people, animals and the planet.
As it stands, the EU-Mercosur FTA will grant more market access to most animal products from Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay), without any conditions related to animal welfare or sustainability. This will further fuel the intensification of animal farming in Mercosur countries, especially in the beef and chicken meat sectors, and this intensification, in addition to being detrimental to animals, will also fuel global challenges we are facing today, such as antimicrobial resistance, the spread of zoonoses, biodiversity loss, and climate change.
Rather than offsetting these risks, the annex is merely an interpretative tool to the existing weak provisions in the agreement, and offers only cosmetic, aspirational and unenforceable adjustments. There is no new measure or obligation included that could address issues created by the agreement. For instance, the protocol failed to extend animal welfare conditions to imports of all animal based products beyond shelled eggs. This means that even with the protocol, the FTA will fuel cruel and unsustainable methods of production. Furthermore, the protocol does not strengthen any of the cooperation mechanisms included in the agreement at the moment on animal welfare, which are too weak to mitigate this negative impact.
Moreover, in the section on climate change, the instrument states that the parties must stick to their Nationally Determined Contributions that were set in June 2019 to tackle the climate crisis. But at the same time, the deal proposes to intensify the very activities that are driving up greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation in Brazil, such as agriculture.
Nor will the risks presented by the EU-Mercosur agreement be restrained by the recent EU legislation on imported deforestation. This is because the legislation ignores many ecosystems that, just like the Amazon rainforest, are also destroyed by intensive animal agriculture. And the scope of products it covers is very limited, as it does not include animal products derived from animals fed by soy on intensive farms. In addition, the EU still does not have any new import requirements related to animal welfare standards.
The agreement must be renegotiated in order to integrate strong and enforceable provisions on animal welfare. Concerns raised by the civil society, the European Parliament and various Member States cannot be solved by simply adding a protocol to the agreement.Stephanie Ghislain, Political Affairs Manager at Eurogroup for Animals