Portugal seeking ‘clarification’ on environmental standards before EU-Mercosur trade deal

Portugal seeking ‘clarification’ on environmental standards before EU-Mercosur trade deal

The Portuguese Foreign Minister has said that the Portuguese presidency of the Council of the European Union is working with Mercosur countries on “additional clarification” on environmental standards in the trade agreement negotiated with the EU.

In a debate in the Portuguese Parliament on Wednesday (3 March), Augusto Santos Silva admitted that “additional clarifications are needed to ensure that all standards required in the fulfilment of the agreement with Mercosur and in the agreement [of investment principle] with China are respected,”.

The minister announced, citing his duties this semester as president-in-office of the Foreign Affairs Council, in the formation of trade, that an “additional clarification” is being worked on with the Mercosur countries, with “all the time that is needed to ensure the same treatment in the agreement with China”.

The EU-Mercosur agreement, reached in June 2019 between the EU and the countries of this Latin American bloc (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) after two decades of negotiations, is currently in the translation and legal review phase, at the end of which, with a political agreement of the 27, the countries of both blocs will have to ratify it.

However, several member states, MEPs and civil society organisations have expressed strong reservations regarding the ratification of the agreement, due to concerns regarding its compatibility with the fulfilment of the Paris Agreement and the impact it will have on global warming, pointing, among several problems, to the deforestation of the Amazon.

The agreement in principle on EU-China investment was reached in December after seven years of negotiations.