What is at stake for animals in the EU-Mercosur Agreement?
Today, the German Presidency begins with the ratification of the EU-Mercosur agreement high on its agenda. With more than 250 other NGOs, we call on the EU Member States and the Members of the European Parliament to reject the ratification of this agreement.
The EU-Mercosur Agreement, if ratified, will become the most significant trade agreement to date for the EU. The Latin American bloc is a key global producer of chicken and beef, and Mercosur is the EU’s first source of imported meat, representing 43% of the EU’s total meat imports in 2018. The bloc mostly exports bovine, poultry and horse meat to the EU.
The region is also home to an incredible range of biodiversity in forests such as the Amazon, the Cerrado and the Gran Chaco. Deforestation, which is mostly pushed by the production of beef, soy and timber, is a key two-fold challenge: not only does it hugely impact animals living in these biotopes, but it does so to fuel a system based on intensive farming, which is very detrimental to farmed animal welfare.
Why should the EU Member States and MEPs reject this agreement? Because the negative impact of the agreement will be concrete and observable in the short to medium term:
- The EU-Mercosur Agreement will increase trade and production in animal-based food, which has detrimental implications on animal welfare: less production and more live exports in Europe, and increasing numbers of feedlots in Latin America.
- The agreement is likely to fuel intensification of the animal production sector in both regions and the increased output in the beef and soy sector (used as animal feed) will trigger further deforestation. This further intensification of the sector will have an impact not only on climate and on the environment, but also on public health as it favours the rise of antimicrobial resistance and the spread of zoonoses. The loss of habitats for wild animals causes more frequent and closer interactions between wild and farmed animals, and with humans. This pressure on biodiversity is seen as a major cause of the spread of zoonoses (animal diseases transmissible to humans). Intensive farming facilities themselves are also a hotbed for zoonoses.
- The chapter on sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures foresees a simplification in the audit system to facilitate trade, which would lower the possibilities to carry out audits on the ground. As animal welfare can only be checked on farms and not at the border, this will have an impact.
New possibilities of cooperation between the countries opened by the agreement cannot counterbalance its negative impacts. The provisions, notably on animal welfare cooperation but also on wildlife, are too weak and too dependent on both political willingness and resources, which can be scarce. In addition, if there was political willingness and resources, such cooperation could take already place outside this trade agreement.