France and Ireland threaten to vote against EU-Mercosur deal

(EurActiv, 23 Aug 2019) The leaders of France and Ireland have threatened to vote against a trade deal between the EU and South American trade bloc Mercosur unless Brazil, where wildfires continue to devastate the Amazon rainforest, takes its environmental obligations more seriously.

Earlier this year, negotiators reached a political agreement on a commercial tie-up between the two trading blocs, after 20 years of talks finally yielded a result.

Finer details are still under consideration but alarm bells began to ring after Irish leader  Leo Varadkar suggested he would try to vote down the agreement. French President Emmanuel Macron followed suit on Friday (23 August) with a blistering attack.

Responding to concerns over vast wildfires raging in the Amazon rainforest, Varadkar said in a statement that “there is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments”.

In a statement ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz, a spokesperson for Macron said that “the president can only conclude President Bolsonaro lied to him at the Osaka summit”, referring to assurances he gave on climate at the last G20 meeting.

“In these conditions, France will oppose the Mercosur deal as it is,” the spokesperson added.

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s far-right president, has been accused of encouraging loggers to start fires and of not directing enough resources to fight the blazes. He has claimed that environmental groups have turned to arson to discredit the country.

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EurActiv, 23 Aug 2019: France and Ireland threaten to vote against EU-Mercosur deal