Mercosur deal must satisfy EU safeguards

Letter published in the Financial Times on Wednesday 26th June 2019

Letter in full (pay wall) here 

Jim Brunsden is right to acknowledge there is a backlash against the Mercosur trade deal from MEPs (Mercosaurus hunting, June 24). But there is more for us to beef about than trade liberalisation around agricultural imports.

Most notable, albeit certainly not unrelated to livestock farming, is deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. In May, the rate of destruction hit a new record, with an area the size of two football pitches disappearing every hour according to some estimates. And it is clear the finger of blame for this destruction points at Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro and his regime.

In March a cross-party group of Green, Labour and European United Left MEPs signed a letter to the EU trade commissioner pledging that we would not vote for the Mercosur trade agreement unless there are clear guarantees that the Bolsonaro regime meets its commitments under the Paris Climate Agreement and safeguards the rights of indigenous people. And last week at least 340 non-government organisations demanded the EU halt trade negotiations with Brazil due to deforestation and human rights abuses.

So it is time for MEPs to say that enough is enough and bring Mr Bolsonaro’s rainforest rampage to a halt. We need MEPs from across the political spectrum to join us and back the hundreds of NGOs, representing millions of citizens, who are demanding these negotiations be suspended until and unless the Amazon rainforest is safeguarded.

Net zero carbon targets, whether these be 2030, 2050 or somewhere in-between, will prove meaningless if the planet’s greatest carbon sink is destroyed.

Molly Scott Cato MEP for South West England, Green party

Jude Kirton-Darling MEP for North East England, Labour