The EU is struggling to find the right way to deal with Brazil. Should it put pressure on the country’s economy? A pro and con.
Not much is left of the rainforest on the side of a highway in Nova Santa Helena, Mato Grosso Photo: ap
The free trade agreement between the EU and the South American economic alliance Mercosur should be stopped immediately. It is fatal that the German government is pushing for the pact to be put into effect. It is a gigantic gift for Brazilian President Bolsonaro. That’s because his supporters, his country’s agro-industrialists, would benefit enormously from the tariff concessions and supply even more climate-damaging soybeans and steaks to the EU.
Under Bolsonaro’s government, human rights are systematically violated, especially the rights of the indigenous population are disregarded, and opposition members are persecuted. The rainforest interests him only as an economic area to be exploited, as the fire inferno in the Amazon shows. Whoever rewards this man supports his crimes. A president who maltreats his country and its people in such a way must not receive trade facilitation as a trophy. He must feel economic pressure to change his policy, for example with a boycott on goods from the (former) rainforest.
Once the agreement is in place, the EU will have little influence over the president. It may be that the EU-Mercosur agreement has a strong chapter on sustainability. But with the economic agreements negotiated by the current EU Commission, such a thing has no clout in real life.
The sanctions provided for are toothless. These agreements are about profits for corporations, not about human rights or ecological aspects. The new EU Commission under Ursula von der Leyen should free itself from this legacy and completely reorganize trade relations – in the service of human rights, the fight against poverty, and with ecology taking precedence over the economy. Putting the EU-Mercosur pact in the shredder is a first step towards this. (Anja Kruger)
Relying on treaties
The Amazon basin is burning and the world is crying out. And because no one knows what to do, a number of politicians and non-governmental organizations are grasping at one of the few straws they have left: an immediate halt to the Mercosur Agreement, one of the largest free trade agreements in the world. But the loud cries are cheap and naive.
It has taken almost 20 years for the EU, for example, to come close to reaching an agreement with the Latin American countries. Now it occurs to some to overturn the whole thing? The demand is more than desperate. Surely it would be better to focus on clear standards and to press ahead with such an agreement with all our might. Boycotting the agreement is tantamount to capitulating to the regime of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
Since I have been politically active – and that is quite a few years – environmentalists have been fighting for the preservation of the rainforest. But they have often been ridiculed for their efforts in the oh-so-distant Amazon basin. Now they are getting the attention they deserve. In addition to the agreement, we now need unambiguous agreements that strengthen development cooperation.
For example, the Amazon Fund. Kicking Brazil out of the fund is not an option. Instead, there must be more investment in forest protection worldwide. The situation is similar with projects for the indigenous population, for agricultural cooperatives, for alternatives to the export of soy and beef. This is where the EU and G7 are needed, the signatory states – in other words, all those who have delayed the breakthrough of an agreement for years. Now it seems out of time.
Letting treaties and negotiations stagnate would be a fatal sign. The Amazon basin is now burning. What is left of it can only be saved with the Brazilians. (Tanja Tricarico)