EU humiliated: How bloc 'threw farmers under the bus' with disastrous trade deal

EU humiliated: How bloc 'threw farmers under the bus' with disastrous trade deal

THE EUROPEAN UNION has pursued an ambitious trade deal with South American nations for years, but it has infuriated the bloc's farmers who feel they have been thrown "under the bus".

After 20 years of deadlock, Brussels clashed with Brazil over the export of sugarcane ethanol as the Brazilian Government, along with its allies, requested more access to Europe's customers. The EU eventually conceded to the request upon the deal's signing in late June 2019. An organisation representing ethanol companies in Europe, ePure, claimed that the EU had thrown the industry and farmers "under the bus", lambasting the bloc for hypocrisy.

It said: "The deal makes concessions to Mercosur countries on ethanol that essentially sacrifice the EU agriculture sector – and domestic production of a renewable energy source – in exchange for gains elsewhere.

“In agreeing to open its markets to Brazilian ethanol, the EU is contradicting its own efforts to increase domestic renewable energy sources in transport, killing incentives to invest in advanced ethanol, and making life even tougher for Europe’s already struggling farmers.

"Last-minute changes to the EU-Mercosur agreement, offering even more access to EU markets for Brazilian sugarcane ethanol, have made a bad deal even worse.

"The agreement essentially trades away Europe’s ethanol industry unless the EU can act quickly and grow the European ethanol market to accommodate a flood of imports."

The EU tried for two decades to negotiate a deal with South America's own bloc of nations called Mercosur, but the talks ended with no formal agreement in June 2019.

While the deal is all-but agreed, it has not been signed, finalised or ratified.

The deal, known as the European Union-Mercosur free trade agreement, would see Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina open their markets to the 27 EU member states but progress appears to have stalled, with Brexit talks now the main focus.

The Mercosur deal, if finalised, would represent the largest trade deal struck by both the EU and Mercosur in terms of citizens involved and forms part of a wider Association Agreement between the two blocs, currently under negotiation.

In September 2019, the EU's misery was compounded when a poll revealed many in Europe opposed the Mercosur deal.

SumOfUs, a global non-profit advocacy organisation and online community that campaigns to hold corporations accountable on issues such as climate, commissioned a poll which was conducted by YouGov.

It asked European consumers what they thought of the potential trade deal.

The vast majority of people in France, Spain, Germany and others said they did not want the EU to enact the agreement.

In France, 89 percent expressed opposition, with 79 percent doing the same in Germany and 78 percent in Spain.

Overall, 82 percent of the respondents were against the deal.

David Norton, campaigns coordinator at SumOfus, said: “This poll proves that the vast majority of Europeans feel the same way: people don’t want cheaper beef at the cost of deforestation.

“The results of this poll should further encourage these governments to reject this trade deal that would be disastrous for people and the planet.”

The trade deal, which could still be concluded as soon as the end of 2020, would vastly lower duties on beef and soybean exports from Mercosur countries to the EU.

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