Leaked documents suggest the EU-Mercosur agreement needs to be renegotiated
Leaked working documents from the French government suggest that for France to consider ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement, it must either be renegotiated to include new provisions, or new EU legislation must be put in place for instance to impose EU standards to imported products.
The Commission's new proposals to solve the conundrum created by the ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement will only be presented by mid 2021 but several Member States are also preparing a list of "pre-ratification conditions", as shown by leaked proposals from the French government. The document suggests that the Agreement would either need to be renegotiated, or that new EU legislation should be put in place, before it can be ratified. Among others, the French government proposes:
- The development of “mirror measures”, which means that certain EU health and environmental standards should apply to imports.
- Cooperation against deforestation, for instance through the creation of a traceability system for animal and plant based products in order to identify whether those products are linked to deforestation.
- A review of all import tolerances, in order to ensure producers from Mercosur respect the environment.
The French opposition to the Agreement grew after the release of the French Impact Assessment on the deal which confirmed the threats identified by Eurogroup for Animals: the deal, if implemented, will lead to an increase of EU’s imports of beef and chicken from Mercosur countries, creating further pressure on EU animal welfare standards. French Prime Minister Jean Castex confirmed in September 2020 that France will oppose the ratification of the EU-Mercosur trade deal in its current shape. Yet, the proposals made by the French government in the leaked working document do not address our concerns related to the impact of the agreement on animal welfare. For instance, animal welfare standards should have been added to the list of standards that the EU should impose on imported goods.
In this context, Eurogroup for Animals still calls for a reopening of the negotiations, which should include amongst other:
- A review of the market access offer to further limit the volume granted in tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) for animal based products, especially for bovine and chicken meat.
- Animal welfare conditions for all trade preferences granted to animal products.
- The clarification that provisions on marking and labelling do not pre-empt the EU from adopting a method of production label that would apply to imports.
- A recognition of the precautionary principle in the field of food safety.
- Proper monitoring mechanisms to assess the impact of the implementation of the trade deal on the animals, the environment and the people, and the introduction of tools that would allow to revert the negative impact that could be detected by these mechanisms. This could be done by strengthening the TSD chapter and its enforcement mechanisms.