EU humiliation: How bloc was snubbed by over 70% of Europeans as trade deal crumbled
The EU tried for 20 years 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.
The deal may be lucrative for big businesses if put into place, but it has also come under fire from farmers in countries with strong agricultural sectors, including France and Ireland.
With the Amazon Rainforest now the hub of Brazil’s beef production, farmers in European countries worry that a surge in beef imports on Europe’s side could cast them aside.
The Irish Farmers Association said on its website last year that the deal with Mercosur “would have a severe impact on Irish and European farmers, who are already struggling from the impact of Brexit and falling consumption levels”.
The Amazon is also at the centre of criticism because of the devastating environmental impact that beef production in the region is already having, with the new EU deal risking more damage.