Trade Regulations

Austria opposes EU-Mercosur agreement due to Amazon fires

Mar, 09, 2021 Posted by Ruth Hollard

Week 202111

Austria warned Portugal, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, not to attempt political maneuvers to obtain the ratification of the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur.  This makes the treaty’s future more uncertain.

Although Austria is not one of the most influential members of the EU, its opposition to the agreement with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay creates more problems. And the same could happen this year in Germany, in case the Green Party returns to the government coalition.

In a letter to the Prime Minister of Portugal, António Costa, the deputy head of government of Austria, Werner Kogler, says that his government has agreed to do its utmost to oppose the signing of the agreement with Mercosur, in the face of “great concerns”.

In the letter dated March 4, Kogler argues that forest fires in the Amazon “also known as the Earth’s lungs”, in combination with an increase in intensive agricultural production in the Mercosur countries, “will exacerbate global warming”. “If we are going to boost trade and economic growth without taking into account the impacts on biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural resources, we are inevitably going in the direction of a climate catastrophe.”

Kogler says that the ruling coalition, formed by the conservative People’s Party and the Green Party, agreed that it should prevent this scenario and that Austria and the EU “as a whole have the responsibility and the fundamental role to act now, on behalf of future generations ”.

Austria warns that it will also not accept the splitting ‘of the agreement, whereby the commercial part could be separated to ease approval difficulties so that tariff preferences between the two blocs could benefit companies more quickly.

“We will be firmly opposed to that as well,” says the Austrian deputy head of government, insisting that “it is not acceptable that attempts are made to circumvent any resistance from a qualified group of member states”.

Instead, Austria suggests using the green deal, the EU’s green plan, to advance climate protection and give new impetus to the Paris Agreement against climate change.

The Austrian government concludes by asking Portugal to ensure that a vote on the agreement with Mercosur can take place openly “without any political maneuver and with the public’s full attention”. For Austria, the impact of the agreement on the climate crisis “is a decisive factor” and will be opposed by all forces against the treaty.

In fact, Portugal no longer talks about taking the EU-Mercosur agreement to the European Council of Leaders until June, when its presidency ends. Lisbon understands precisely the size of the opposition of several Member States, starting with France.

Source: Valor Econômico

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