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WORLD | 23-06-2024 16:05

Scholz, Milei demand swift deal on EU-Mercosur free-trade pact

Chancellor Olaf Scholz received President Javier Milei for talks in Berlin on Sunday in which both leaders discussed closer economic cooperation on trade, renewable energies and climate protection.

The leaders of Germany and Argentina called for a swift conclusion to a major trade deal between the European Union and four South American economies that has been opposed by French President Emmanuel Macron. 

Chancellor Olaf Scholz received President Javier Milei for talks in Berlin on Sunday in which both leaders discussed closer economic cooperation on trade, renewable energies and climate protection. They discussed the free-trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur countries and “agreed that negotiations on the agreement should be finalised swiftly,” Scholz’s chief spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said in a statement. 

Opposition from France has been a major hurdle to the EU-Mercosur pact, which would create an integrated market of 780 million consumers. Macron has argued that European farmers should not be put at a disadvantage by the planned trade agreement, insisting that environmental concessions obtained by the EU so far haven fall short of what’s needed. 

The French president’s objections are significant because the deal — which would be the largest trade agreement in EU history and one of the world’s biggest free-trade pacts — may be concluded as a so-called mixed agreement, covering competences of both the EU and member states. That would enable a French veto and require the approval of the 27 national parliaments and some regional ones.

Scholz and Milei also discussed Argentina’s bid to join the OECD, an initiative supported by the German government. They spoke about Argentina’s reform plans and their impact on the population. 

“The Chancellor emphasized that, in his view, social compatibility and the protection of social cohesion should be important benchmarks,” Hebestreit said.

by Michael Nienaber, Bloomberg

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