One of Sweden's priorities during the EU presidency is to finalize a free trade agreement between the EU and the Mercosur countries in South America. But there is concern among climate and human rights organizations that increased trade between the parties will mean more devastation of the Amazon and increased risk of violations of indigenous peoples' rights. Photo: Tom Fish. Source: Pexels.

Development magazine explains

Climate organizations critical of trade agreements between the EU and Mercosur

The EU is in the final phase of a free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur- the countries of South America, after almost 23 years of negotiations. The agreement means reduced tariffs on trade between the countries, but several environmental and human rights organizations have criticized the agreement and believe that it could lead to increased devastation of the Amazon. 

EU-Mercosur The free trade agreement means that the EU and the Mercosur countries – Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – will reduce tariffs on trade in products such as beef and soy between the parties. The agreement was initiated with the hope that it will improve trade relations between the EU and the Mercosur countries, as it will be easier to import and export products between the countries.

Sweden's government positive to the agreement

Sweden, which is now the country holding the presidency of the EU, stands behind the free trade agreement. One of Sweden priorities during the presidency is to try to get the agreement through. Also Spain, which is the future EU presidency country, doesn't try to get the agreement through, and it is currently creating a "gap" to push it through. The Council of Ministers has already presented its proposal regarding the agreement and now the decisive discussions in the EU Parliament remain. It is still unclear exactly when the agreement will be voted through, and there are, among other things, Swedish EU parliamentarians who are critical of free trade agreement

- We need to act now. There are several ways to do it but an obvious way is to freeze the negotiations on the Mercosur agreement, of course, said Malin Björk (V) in the EU Parliament in 2019.

Another strong opponent of the agreement is French President Emmanuel Macron, who commented in February 2023 to the agreement will never go through if it does not respect the Paris Agreement, which means that it relates to legislation and agreements that focus on, among other things, climate adaptation.

"Involves increased deforestation of the rainforest"

There is great concern among climate and environmental groups and human rights organizations that increased trade will mean greater devastation of the Amazon rainforest and also a violation of the rights of indigenous peoples as they live and live in large parts of the threatened zones.

The prevailing concern means that climate and environmental groups work diligently to form opinions within the EU. Right now, the hashtag #StopEUMercosur is spreading on Twitter and other social media where activists are sharing different news from their respective countries about how they are voting on the proposal. Climatethe organization Amazon Watch is one of the groups that has warned about the agreement by releasing a pamphlet explaining how the agreement threatens both the environment and the climate, but also the rights of indigenous peoples in South America.

- This means increased destruction of the rainforest in Brazil in particular, because we get an increased incentive for these goods. The idea is that Europe will send technology and cars, and the Mercosur countries will send raw materials such as meat, soy and sugar, an industry that is already spreading in the rainforest. Brazil also approves a great many pesticides that Europe has banned, says Karin Ståhl on Amazon watch Sweden in one interview with the newspaper Syre. 


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