For more than twenty years, there have been discussions between Mercosur and the European Union to establish a trade agreement that covers 31 nations, a population of 720 million people and around 20% of the global economy.
In recent months, diplomatic representatives from both blocs have intensified their efforts to finally conclude and sign the agreement. The urgency is motivated by the election in Argentina of President Javier Milei, who opposes the treaty. Government officials planned to finalize the deal during a summit in Rio de Janeiro the following week – just days before Milei’s inauguration in Buenos Aires.
On Saturday (12/02), Brazil and other countries that supported the agreement were taken by surprise by statements from French President Emmanuel Macron, who expressed his opposition to the agreement. During an interview in Dubai, where the UN climate conference (COP28) is taking place, Macron called the agreement “outdated” and inconsistent with the environmental aspirations of nations like Brazil.
Macron’s statements came shortly after his meeting with Lula, representing a significant setback for the Brazilian president, one of the main supporters of the treaty. Furthermore, Macron accused the Mercosur-EU agreement of being harmful to the environment, a delicate point, especially during COP28, in which Brazil sought to demonstrate leadership on the ecological agenda.
During the interview, Macron praised Lula, highlighting the Brazilian president’s vision and courage. However, he expressed his opposition to the agreement, arguing that it is incompatible with the actions taken in Brazil and France. Macron emphasized the density of the bilateral agenda between the two countries, but highlighted that the agreement is contradictory, adding that clauses were initially included to please France, but that, in practice, they do not benefit anyone. He highlighted the difficulty of asking French and European farmers and industrialists to commit to decarbonization while tariffs are being eliminated for imported products that do not follow these guidelines.
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