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ECONOMY | 18-05-2023 20:45

EU-Mercosur deal: European lawmakers urge environmental protections from Brazil

European Union lawmakers tell Brazil to show it is serious about protecting the environment and Amazon rainforest iflong-stalled EU trade deal with Mercosur is to be finalised.

European Union lawmakers visiting Brazil said Wednesday the country needs to show it is serious about protecting the environment and the Amazon rainforest to conclude a long-stalled EU trade deal with the Mercosur trade bloc.

"The European side needs... a clear commitment and clear mechanisms on sustainability," European Parliament member Anna Cavazzini of Germany told AFP in São Paulo.

Agreed in principle in 2019 after two decades of negotiations, the EU's draft deal with South American trade bloc Mercosur – composed of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay – would create a huge market of more than 750 million people.

But ratification by the EU's 27 members has stalled, notably over concerns about Mercosur countries' environmental protections.

The EU has proposed a "side letter" with guarantees on the environment, and recently adopted a ban on imports of coffee, cacao, soybean, timber and other products deemed to be fueling deforestation.

However, both sides have voiced new optimism the deal could be ratified this year, after Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took over from far-right climate-change sceptic Jair Bolsonaro in January.

The veteran leftist has vowed to fight for zero deforestation, after four years of surging destruction in the Amazon under Bolsonaro.

"The change at the political level is very important: there's strong will on Brazil's part to reach a deal, and a government that believes in fighting climate change," said Portuguese MEP João Albuquerque.

But French MEP Yannik Jadot said more work was still needed to finalize the deal.

"The agreement was in the freezer" under Bolsonaro, he said.

"But it's insufficient to count only on the commitment of Lula's government," he added, saying the new administration needed to show results on protecting the Amazon.

The 15 visiting MEPs arrived Sunday in Brasilia, where they met respected Environment Minister Marina Silva, before traveling to economic capital São Paulo.

Part of the delegation will continue to Uruguay Thursday for meetings with officials there.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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