European Commission determined to conclude EU-Mercosur trade deal this year despite French concerns

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EC, at last week’s European Council meetings (Copyright: European Union , 2017; Source: EC – Audiovisual Service)


Despite the little space dedicated to pure international trade at the latest European leaders’ summit in Brussels, one of last week’s biggest takeaways is that negotiations between the EU and Southern America over a free trade deal may soon gain momentum. On Friday, right at the end of last week’s EU Council meeting, European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said the European Union will push to conclude free trade talks with Latin American bloc Mercosur by the end of the year, despite the concerns some members expressed. French President Emmanuel Macron indeed voiced his opposition to the increase of farm imports an agreement would bring, but it seems that now Europe is getting ready to progress towards what has the potential to become its biggest trade deal yet.

Background

At the beginning of last week, as all EU member States were getting ready for the Thursday-Friday EU Council Meeting in Brussels, the main European media outlets reported that French President Emmanuel Macron had succeeded in “pushing trade” onto the agenda of the upcoming EU summit. Mr. Macron’s plan was to reportedly call for caution in commercial deals that would bring a surge of beef and other agricultural imports, openly referring to a potential trade deal with the Southern American bloc.

Just a couple of days before, on Monday, France’s ambassador to Brazil, Michel Miraillet, underlined there was “heightened concern” in the European Union over food safety in Latin America after a series of recent scandals, including the bribing of inspectors by meatpackers in Brazil to overlook sanitary practices, as reported by Reuters. Mr. Miraillet also said France expected “four or five” EU countries to back its plan to propose updating the Commission’s negotiating authority. The previous week, President Macron said that France was “in no hurry” to a deal with the Mercosur bloc of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay by the end of the year – a goal the European Commission had previously set, also noting that the mandate dates back to 1999.

Last week’s feelings

However, despite France’s concerns about an EU-Mercosur deal, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker insisted on Friday the EU will push to conclude free trade talks with South American bloc Mercosur by the end of this year. “This will be the most important trade agreement in terms of volume”, he said at a closing press conference at a European summit in Brussels. “We will continue to do everything we can to conclude the negotiations with Mercosur before the end of the year. It’s important. We underestimate the importance of Mercosur for the European Union,” he also added.

The European Commission says the savings the EU could make from reduced import tariffs with Mercosur would be three times greater than for deals with Canada and Japan combined. President Juncker said Europe had a great opportunity to seal trade deals with countries across the world, while respecting European values and standards and the “reciprocity sought by the French president”.

French concerns

Indeed, speaking to journalist after last week’s summit, French President Macron stressed the need for including a “genuine principle of reciprocity” in EU’s trade policy, also asking for “a balanced policy between openness and protection”. The main concern coming from Mr. Macron’s country is that the Commission, on top of rushing towards a deal with Mercosur, is also seeking to open talks with Australia and New Zealand, two other countries that want to expand exports of farm products. The French President is currently facing strong opposition to free trade deals at home, where crowds are pushing him to not ratify an EU trade deal with Canada (CETA). However, l’Hexagone is not the only country to oppose to a potential EU-Mercosur trade pact.

Ireland’s echo

Ireland has expressed particular concerns regarding either food safety or the impact of tariff-rate quotas on sensitive agricultural products. Ireland, which is one of Europe’s biggest exporters of meat, is particularly concerned about the advantage that a no-tariff situation would give to countries like Brazil – part of Mercosur, which is already among the biggest beef exporters to Europe. Ireland is also claiming that Brexit is already threatening a potentially heavy impact on the 270,000 tonnes of beef sold by Irish farmers to the UK.

In an interview last month, Meat Industry Ireland’s director Cormac Healy openly said that any progression and completion of the Mercosur trade deal will have negative effects on the EU beef market. “While the outcome of Brexit is still uncertain, it [Mercosur] has the potential to cause serious disruption to the EU beef market, sending the EU-27 market into massive beef surplus”, MercoPress, Southern American news agency, quoted Mr. Healy as saying. “As Ireland is the main exporter of beef to the rest of the EU market, the Irish cattle and beef sector would suffer the greatest consequences of this deal”, Healy also said.

Size of the game

EU exports to Mercosur from cars to pharmaceuticals are subject to duties of about 4.4 billion euros ($5.2 billion) per year. As reported by Reuters, France, said a Commission source, would be among one of the greatest beneficiaries if these were cut. For the four Mercosur countries negotiating with the EU, the EU is the first trading partner, accounting for 21% of the bloc’s total trade in 2015. The EU’s exports to the region have increased from €21 billion in 2005 to €46 billion in 2015. Mercosur’s exports have increased from €32 billion to €42 billion over the same period.

Mercosur’s biggest exports to the EU in 2015 were agricultural products, such as foodstuffs, beverages and tobacco (24%), vegetable products including soya and coffee (18%) and meats and other animal products (6%). The EU is the biggest foreign investor in the region, rising from €130 billion in 2000 to €387 billion in 2014. Mercosur is a major investor in the EU, with stocks of €115 billion in 2014.*

According to latest sources, the next negotiating round is scheduled for 6-10 November this year.

*Source: European Union

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The ECB tells Berlin that a Germanic Eurozone is unacceptable and doesn’t work

Fear casts again a cold, ugly shadow over Europe; Turkey sides with Russia

These technologies are playing a major role at the Cricket World Cup

Stolen colonial-era objects will be ‘unconditionally’ returned, says the Netherlands

MEPs call on Russia to stop illegitimate prosecution of Lithuanian judges

Climate emergency: City mayors are ‘world’s first responders’, says UN chief

New poll shows what people think coronavirus will do to their economies

The four top Americans who flew to Europe perplexed things about Trump’s intentions

2019 ‘a critical year’ for Somali politics and development says Security Council

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

Building a European Health Union: Stronger crisis preparedness and response for Europe

Member States’ compliance with EU law in 2018: efforts are paying off, but improvements still needed

Hungary: people born in the 2020s won’t have legal rights any more to buy tobacco

From books to bikes: 4 unexpected gender gaps

Medicines from the sky: how drones can save lives

Unity, regional cooperation and international support needed for Horn of Africa to develop sustainably

2019 European Elections gets backing from professional footballers

Natural hazards don’t always spell disaster: UN risk reduction chief

The two big uncertainties shaping our future

Can the EU afford a trade war with China?

The next 48 hours may change the European Union

Metrics of the Sustainable Developments Goals: Can we trust our data?

Coding in Namibia: UN supports young women’s computing career dreams

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

3 ways digitalization will help end crime

Changing healthcare systems with simple technological solutions

EntEx Organises 5 Summer Schools for Young Entrepreneurs across Europe in June/July 2014

Talent, not technology, is the key to success in a digital future

SMEs and micro firms sinking together with south Eurozone

UN Envoy urges Burundi leaders to ‘seize opportunities for national unity and peace’

Greece lost a month that cannot be found neither in “mini Summits” nor in Berlin

Belgium: keep up reforms to increase employment and productivity growth

Ebola not an international ‘health emergency’ but risks spreading across DR Congo border, warns UN health agency

“Access denied”: the Greek health system under pressure

South Korea: A cherished partner for the EU

Commission considers anti-dumping duty on Chinese solar glass imports

3 ways sustainable supply chains can build better business in a post-COVID world

Commission issues guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market

How regenerative agroforestry could solve the climate crisis

Davos on Climate Change: citizens demanding more actions while CEOs tried to balance profit with sustainability

UN ‘determined to lead by example’ on disability rights: Guterres

3 reasons why consumer demand matters for the post-COVID-19 recovery

Service Engineer Intern – 1991

This is why many young people have no access to proper education

This man is installing 100 trash barriers in Bali’s rivers to stop plastic pollution

FROM THE FIELD: Weeding out Mexico’s unwanted beach invader

Infrastructural and system barriers to Universal Health Coverage: get in my patient’s shoes

This Kenyan company makes fuel from human poo

We must move from egocentric to ecocentric leadership to safeguard our planet

Ukraine turns again to the EU for more money

The Greta effect? Why businesses are more committed to climate action in 2020

World Maritime Day: Commissioner Vălean calls for support and safe return of seafarers

FROM THE FIELD: South Sudan’s green shoots, highlight environmental recovery from war

Why the way of loving closes doors of health?

3 things to know about our Sustainable Development Impact Summit

After this year’s Climate Action Summit, what happens next?

EU Court of Justice invalidates Safe Harbour and the game for thousands US businesses suddenly changes

How tech can lead reskilling in the age of automation

The European Union continues to lead the global fight against climate change

Britain declares trade war on mainland Europe

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s