Ref. Ares(2019)348254 - 22/01/2019
Ref. Ares(2019)2673845 - 17/04/2019
Brussels, 18 January 2019
Dear Commissioner for Trade,
Dear Ms Malmström,
We as members of the European Parliament, are extremely worried by the ongoing negotiations to
conclude an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement with a comprehensive trade pillar.
After the assumption of the Brazilian presidency by Mr Jair Bolsonaro, on January 1, 2019, we are
faced with a political and economic approach by the leading government inside the Mercosur, which
is not compatible with European values and with the urgent need to save our planet.
We have carefully monitored President Bolsonaro’s public statements, and we are closely following
the first decisions taken since taking office, as well as assessing the members of cabinet he has
We have grave concerns over the implications of all of these, and this is why we are addressing this
Open Letter to you.
First, we are concerned about the executive order put forward by President Bolsonaro which would
transfer the regulation of indigenous reserves to the agricultural ministry. The land reform is
stopped. This would mean that 4.5 million small peasants will wait in vain to get access to land, and
that any agricultural trade between Mercosur and the EU is most possibly jeopardising indigenous
lands. Further, the appointment of Ricardo Salles as environment minister is particularly worrying,
considering that he was found guilty of “administrative impropriety” after altering maps on
environmental protection measures to benefit mining companies in 2016. This is before we even
mention Mr Bolsonaro’s clear and stated disdain for women, minorities such as the LGBTIQ+
community, his disregard for labour rights- the list goes on.
The Amazon rain forest and the Cerrado area, both highly important biospheres, are being further
cleared, not at least via illegal logging, and sold out for the implantation of soybean and other
monocultures deemed for export.
We do not want European business to be implicit in the further exacerbation of land conflicts,
displacement of indigenous people and local small peasant families. We do not want to increase the
climate crisis through the exploitation of the Mercosur block, in particular Brazilian biodiversity and
water. Further clearance of forests and concentration of land in the hands of very few wealthy
national as well as European investors must be stopped.
This is why we urge you to immediately halt the negotiations for an EU-Mercosur Association
Agreement with the current government in Brazil.
In more general terms we had strong reservations concerning the continuation of negotiations on a
basis of a completely outdated mandate for years- you know, as we do, that the mandate for EU-
Mercosur negotiations stems from the last century and was adopted by the Council almost 20 years
ago, back in 1999.
In the 21st century, any negotiation of a trade agreement or an agreement containing a trade pillar
with third countries must reflect the challenges we face worldwide and contribute to curb or delete
Particularly regarding environmental concerns, less than a month ago, politicians and experts from
all over the world met in an EU Member State, in Katowice, at the COP 24, because of the urgent
need to adopt a Rule Book for the implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement. In the same
month, December 2018, the European Commission published a Road Map in which it announced to
“step up European Action against Deforestation and Forest Degradation”1. This Road Map shall
precede a Commission Communication in the second quarter of 2019, which should “develop a more
coherent and comprehensive approach to the problem”.
In its own words, the Commission explains the need for such an action as follows:
This initiative aims to present an integrated EU approach to combat deforestation, protect forests
and promote sustainable supply chains.
Deforestation is a major global problem, leading to biodiversity loss, climate change and poverty.
The causes are many and complex, though increased production of commodities such as soy, beef,
palm oil, coffee, and cocoa drives almost 80% of all deforestation
If the EU Commission takes its own analysis seriously, it cannot follow a strategy of opening markets
at any cost. It cannot just pay lip service with non-binding texts and enable the opposite in practice
through open trade channels. The conclusion of an EU-Mercosur Association Agreement in its
current terms would be in full contradiction
with EU efforts to stop further deforestation and forest
Instead of continuing these negotiations, the EU Commission and all EU institutions must use,
through its diplomatic channels and foreign relations, all kinds of agreements, including trade
agreements, to establish limits to further plundering of natural resources and endangering
sustainable development. European investment and European business presence in third countries
must be bound by tight rules and monitored, and infractions of environmental and climate
imperatives must be sanctioned, for the survival of our planet. Imports from third countries must
undergo a legal and mandatory sustainability check. All of this must be spelt out in the mandate for
such agreements and in the agreements themselves.
All of this leads us to an urgent request to you to put an immediate halt to the negotiations for an EU
- Mercosur Association Agreement. Furthermore, we consider that modern trade agreements must
be put on a completely different foundation. We firmly hope that you will address our first demand
as a matter of urgency, and then proceed to adapt trade policy to the current challenges and threats
we are faced with worldwide.
We are happy to get a swift answer from you on this urgent matter. 1 https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2018-6516782_en 2 https://ec.europa.eu/info/law/better-regulation/initiatives/ares-2018-6516782_en
Philippe LAMBERTS, Co-President Green/EFA Group, Belgium
Martin HAEUSLING, Germany
Ana MIRANDA, Spain
Maria HEUBUCH, Germany
Molly SCOTT CATO, UK
Eva JOLY, France
Florent MARCELLESI, Spain
Tilly METZ, Luxemburg
Jordi SOLE, Spain
Margrete AUKEN, Denmark
Ernest URTASUN, Spain
Yannick JADOT, France
Barbara LOCHBIHLER, Germany
Josep-María TERRICABRAS, Spain
Heidi HAUTALA, Finland
Sven GIEGOLD, Germany
Benedek JAVOR, Hungary
Bas EICKHOUT, Netherlands
Monika VANA, Austria
Bart STAES, Belgium
Reinhard BÜTIKOFER, Germany
Michel REIMON, Austria