EU/Presidency: France ‘will not give in’ on demands raised against EU-Mercosur trade deal

The French government reiterated on Wednesday that it “will not give in” to the demands it has raised against the trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Mercosur, saying it is “fighting deforestation” in the Amazon.

“France will not give in to the demands it raised on 18 September,” Franck Riester, France’s Minister delegate for Foreign Trade, stressed in a publication on his official Twitter social network account, following a conversation with Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva.

For Frank Riester, this is a “fight against deforestation” in the Amazon, so the French position is aimed at “implementing the Paris Agreement” on climate change and “respecting European standards on agri-food products”.

Last September, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said it was necessary to reflect on the trade agreement between the two regions, first with European countries and then with Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay).

According to government sources, “this process will take some time,” reiterating that no progress will be made until “the level of ambition” set by the French chief executive “is achieved in a credible, lasting and verifiable manner.

Frank Riester’s statements follow today’s meeting, by videoconference, between Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa and Argentine President Alberto Fernández, as both countries take over the chairmanships of the EU Council and Mercosur respectively.

The two leaders agreed on a “coordinated effort” to take forward the agreement between the 27 and Mercosur during the Portuguese chair, which takes place in the first half of this year.

Ratification of the agreement, which will have to go through the European Parliament and the Congresses of each Mercosur country, is suspended due to some outstanding issues, such as the lists of geographical indications, which cover products with designation of origin, but also issues of strong political relevance such as the environmental issue, which has been questioned by European countries like France.

The agreement between the European Union and Mercosur was closed in July 2019, after twenty years of negotiations, and Portugal hopes to move forward with it during its rotating presidency of the EU Council.