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European Union will be sending European farmers to the slaughter house: ECVC on EU-Mercosur FTA negotiations

By Antonio Onorati and Lynne Davis - La Via Campesina, November 29, 2017

Brussels, November 28, 2017 – The next round of negotiations on the free trade agreement between the European Union and Mercosur* will take place from 4 to 10 December. These countries include major beef exporters such as Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina, which represent the top 3 beef exporting countries to Europe.

The current rush of the EU and Mercosur, which have been negotiating this agreement for the last 17 years, is no coincidence: on the one hand, the EU is taking advantage of trade opportunities created by US protectionist policies and, on the other hand, Mercosur’s largest economies are now being led by zealous followers of the free market. As Macri in Argentina progresses with its social cuts and privatizations, the neoliberal and illegitimate government of Temer in Brazil, the result of a putsch, holds the temporary presidency of Mercosur and seeks international support in the forthcoming Brazilian elections.

The negotiations cast aside the needs of farmers, workers and consumers on both sides of the Atlantic.

The proposed treaty will be a dangerous advancement for the neoliberal model and a flagrant violation of the social and environmental rights of all. Moreover, this agreement would show that the commitments made at COP 23 for a sustainable economic model were nothing more than rhetoric from the Heads of State; distinctly lacking in policy coherence.

As was the case in previous Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, the deal with Mercosur threatens to undermine standards on health, the environment and animal welfare in the European Union. One thing that is clear is that our farmers will not be able to compete with overseas imports, whose prices are unrivaled.

The investments and economic development implemented by this FTA could only be exploited by large companies and agribusiness with business strategies reliant on international trade. The needs of citizens for quality food, a healthy environment, social rights and cultural diversity, are completely undermined and will be subordinated to the mercantile zeal of big international capital.

This agreement with Mercosur at the agricultural level will, among other things, increase import quotas on high value beef products coming from the South American bloc.

Through this agreement, Mercosur is focusing its ambitions, among others, on the European beef sector. To this end, its asking for an export quota of at least between 100 000 tons and 130 000 tons of beef to be imported into the European Union. In exchange, European negotiators want nothing less than the reduction of import tariffs imposed by South American countries for EU manufactured products, undermining the prospect of autonomous economic and technological development of the regional bloc. This is demanded by the EU in addition to access to public procurement and preferential market conditions for services in Mercosur countries: telecommunications, internet, financial services and transport.

Europe is acting as it did for the agreement on CETA and TTIP: in a silo, without consulting the sectors concerned. For ECVC and its members, the EU- MERCOSUR agreement must be stopped.

In a context where multinational corporations systematically violate human, social and environmental rights with impunity, such an FTA will only exacerbate violations by failing to include binding clauses for the protection of these rights. Conversely, it will enable multinationals to prosecute states that act against their interests. Our future ability to protect our rural areas, a dignified life for producers, to protect against social injustice and regional integration will therefore be seriously compromised.

We must seek agreements that give priority to the needs of the people. We can’t provide the industrial sector and transnational corporations with land, water, workers and peasants on a silver platter. The agreements we need are those that help us get closer to Food Sovereignty and through that path address the challenges facing our region and the world: climate change, the defense of rural communities and food security.

* Mercosur is the Southern Common Market, which brings together Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay; with Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru as associates. Full member in July 2012, Venezuela has been suspended since December 2016.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

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