EU ambassador says Mercosur trade deal unaffected by Amazon wildfires

Autor:

  • Euractiv.com

26.08.2019.

Euractiv.com

A trade deal between Europe and the Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) provides a clear commitment to the Paris Agreement in combatting climate change, the new EU ambassador in Brasilia, Ignácio Ybáñez, told EURACTIV’s partner EFE in an interview.

However, he hinted that the deal was not at risk. “We have been negotiating the agreement for 20 years, which is a commitment to the future between the two regions, so it is not true to think that parliaments will react against specific things,” he said.

In light of the worst wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, Ybáñez said, “The Mercosur agreement contains some commitments of how we want our future relationship to be. For example, on the environmental issue, there is a clear commitment to compliance with the Paris agreement and international agreements by Brazil and Mercosur”.

But the lack of action from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro to tackle the critical situation in Amazon has triggered the strong reaction of some EU member states.

France and Ireland threatened to block the Mercosur deal, while conservative Bolsonaro warned French President Emmanuel Macron not me meddle in his country and stop using the issue for domestic political reasons.

EURACTIV France reported that Amazon has become a hot topic in the country as many politicians highlighted the threat of a new environmental tragedy. “Fires burning in the Amazon are a crime against humanity and those responsible must be held accountable”, said Anne Hidalgo, head of the coalition of cities for the climate C40.

In Biarritz, Macron underlined that G7 members had agreed to help countries affected by Amazon fires as soon as possible, and insisted that France had a 700km border with Brazil, deep in the forest: Guyana.

On the other hand, Spain opposed blocking the trade deal saying it will open “huge opportunities” for the two regional blocs. Similarly, the Dutch response has been less explosive given the lowland nation has fewer interests in the more controversial aspects of the draft deal, such as beef imports.

Dutch trade minister Sigrid Kaag last month continued to defend the agreement and insists that it will actually help improve environmental standards in countries like Brazil. Signals from other parts of the Dutch government suggest that Emmanuel Macron and Leo Varadkar will have to look elsewhere to build a blocking minority for when the deal is put to a vote.

In Berlin, the grand coalition does not have a specific view. German Foreign Minister Heiko Mass (SPD) warned Bolsonaro against economic consequences. “Environmental and climate policies are central to the EU-Mercosur agreement,” he told Bild am Sonntag. On the other hand, Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) warned against political overreaction. “We will not save the rainforest if we tear down bridges with the Brazilian government and give up the Amazon fund,” the CSU politician told German daily Berliner Morgenpost.

Referring to the Mercosur deal, ambassador Ybáñez said what is really worrying is that governments can inform their parliaments properly about what is at stake amid growing protectionism by the US and China. “The commitment we make is for the common values of the rule of law, human rights, sustainability and economic liberalisation”.

Ybáñez also criticised Bolsonaro’s decision to hit at the Norwegian and German governments for suspending their contributions to the Amazon Fund, aimed at conserving the largest rainforest in the world, for having doubts about the Brazilian government’s commitment to its preservation.

(EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es/ EURACTIV.fr / Claire Stam, EURACTIV.de, Sam Morgan- Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos)

THE HAGUE

Massaging Merkel. As the Amazon fires raged, Dutch PM Mark Rutte met with German counterpart Angela Merkel last week to talk climate change. Rutte scored a big victory after the German chancellor eased her objections to increasing a top-line EU emissions reduction target from the current 40% to 55%. The issue is set to dominate the upcoming environmental agenda but with most western member states now on board, expect progress. (Sam Morgan, EURACTIV.com)

PARIS

Mystery over the next Commissioner. Although the deadline is on 26 August, France together with Italy, Romania and Portugal has not nominated a Commissioner yet. Bearing in mind the quantity of male Commissioners put forward so far, the chances for Michel Barnier have been lowered, meaning that other potential candidates such as Florence Parly and Sylvie Goulard may be in with a shot. Outgoing French Commissioner Pierre Moscovici seems to be moving to the French Court of Audit when he leaves Brussels in November, according to the weekly JDD. (EURACTIV.fr)

>>LEARN MORE about the future EU Commissioners on EURACTIV’s “Commissioner Tracker”.

///

LONDON

Johnson downplays chances of a Brexit deal. The UK’s chances of leaving the European Union with a Brexit deal are “touch and go,” according to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, following talks with EU Council President Donald Tusk on Sunday. Speaking to the BBC on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Biarritz, Johnson said the likelihood of the U.K. leaving the bloc with a deal would be dependent on the EU.

Whilst talks between Tusk and Johnson were reportedly positive, the Council President did reaffirm his position that any alternatives to the already agreed proposition on the backdrop between Ireland and Northern Ireland would have to be “realistic” and “immediately operational.” (Samuel Stolton, EURACTIV.com)

///

ROME

Talks slowing. The extra time President Mattarella has given to parties to solve the political crisis is almost up but the centre-left Democratic Party (PD) and anti-establishment Five Star Movement cannot find an agreement to form a new government. The disagreement is on the next prime minister as Five Star keep pushing to reinstate outgoing premier Giuseppe Conte. (Gerardo Fortuna, EURACTIV.com)

///

ATHENS

Politicians bicker over EU funds. According to official government data, Greece has absorbed just €4.9 billions of EU funds out of total €19.7 billion approved for the 2014-20 period, or less than 25%.

Deputy Development and Investment Minister Ioannis Tsakiris told EURACTIV.gr: “We need to spend €5 billion annually until 2023 […] it will be an achievement if we make it.” He also accused the previous Syriza government of merely planning and not implementing the EU funded projects. (Theodore Karaoulanis, EURACTIV.gr)

NICOSIA

Happy with Macron’s commitment. Cyprus’ politicians are happy with French President Macron and his demonstration of solidarity in the ongoing spat with Ankara over gas drilling. Following the visit of Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis to Paris, Macron said the EU and France would not show any weakness toward Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean region. Cyprus has invested heavily in military and diplomatic cooperation with France in recent years, while French companies have acquired offshore drilling rights. (Theodore Karaoulanis, EURACTIV.gr)

///

BUCHAREST

Candidates for presidential elections. On Saturday, the Romanian socialists nominated Viorica Dancila, Romania’s current prime minister, as the social-democratic party’s candidate for presidential elections in November. She will compete against current president Klaus Iohannis, who seeks a second mandate.

Dan Barna, leader of the Save Romania Union party, is also eyeing the post, in tandem with his ally Dacian Ciolos, the candidate for the PM position. Former PM Calin Popescu Tariceanu, leader of the ALDE party, also plans to run. (EURACTIV.ro)

///

SOFIA

Borissov refutes claims about Mariya Gabriel’s portfolio. Bulgarian PM Boyko Borissov reacted furiously to claims in Politico’s Brussels Playbook that Sofia wants the agricultural portfolio for Mariya Gabriel, who is officially commissioner-designate. Borissov, who has repeatedly said that Bulgaria would prefer if Gabriel would keep the digital portfolio or be in charge of cyber-security, called the report “inventions”.

///

LJUBLJANA

Austria angry at Slovenia. Speaking to employees of Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK), PM Marjan Šarec (LMŠ-RE) said Slovenia should plan to build another reactor, something that irritated neighbouring Austria, which has renounced the use of nuclear power and has been pushing for the closure of NEK since the ‘90s. (Željko Trkanjec, EURACTIV.hr)

ZAGREB

Joint European solution, not barbed wire. Croatian Interior Minister Davor Božinović said a joint EU solution would be the best response to the issue of illegal migrants after Slovenia decided to continue placing barbed wire and fence along its border with Croatia. There are currently 179 kilometres of “temporary technical barriers,” at the Slovenian-Croatian border, 116 kilometres of which is barbed wire fencing and 63 kilometres of fence panel. (Željko Trkanjec, EURACTIV.hr)

President leads the polls. Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, the incumbent president, has the support of 34.6% of voters, according to latest polls. But, 49% of voters think positively about her, and only 37% approve her work as president, representing the lowest rates for any Croatian president since 1990. (Željko Trkanjec, EURACTIV.hr)

///

WARSAW

Together against totalitarianism. 80 years after the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact, Poland has signed a declaration together with the Baltic states and Romania. The countries have agreed to cooperate on the basis of “justice and objective truth” against totalitarianism. (Łukasz Gadzała), EURACTIV.pl)

///

BRATISLAVA

Kočner’s web untangled. An ongoing investigation into the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak has unsurfaced evidence that Marián Kočner, the person charged with the order of the murder, was directly in contact with many Slovak politicians, top prosecutors and judges. A few days ago, the police confiscated the phones of the state secretary at the Ministry of Justice. (Zuzana Gabrižová, EURACTIV.sk)

>>Read also: Investigation of Slovak journalist murder uncovers other serious crimes

///

PRAGUE

30,000 slaves. There are 30,000 people living in “modern slavery“ in the Czech Republic. According to the Global Slavery Index. The victims are mostly foreigners from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania or Vietnam and from disadvantaged groups. (Aneta Zachová, EURACTIV.cz)

///

BELGRADE

More than half of Serbian citizens still pro-EU. 53% of Serbians would vote in favour of joining the EU on a referendum, according to a new survey conducted by the Ministry for European Integration. At the same time, 59% believe that the problems between Belgrade and Priština ought to be resolved independently.

(beta.rs, EURACTIV.rs)

***

[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Samuel Stolton]

Tagovi/Tags:

Inačica na drugom jeziku / Alternate language version