As Lula prepares to take on the office of President of Brazil, we, as a team of researchers from Europe and from Brazil informed of constraints and objectives of governments, civil society and economy players on both sides of the agreements, respond in this Policy Brief to the question whether the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement, not finalized yet, can be greened and how, and if so, how much greener it can be, with a particular emphasis on what the European players should do now.

Key Messages

  • The association agreement was not designed and negotiated with a climate objective. Yet its negative environmental effects could be constrained with additional buffers enclosed in an additional instrument or protocol, without re-opening the negotiation of the substantial part of the agreement. And our comparison with a no-deal scenario shows it is very likely to be better for climate and the environment than no deal.
  • Should the negotiations be re-opened, the EU Council should seize the opportunity to give a clear mandate to the EC for strengthening the environmental and climate provisions and raising the association agreement to the highest standards on this matter. In all likelihood, this would come at a commercial cost for some EU businesses of restricting and/or delaying further the access to Mercosur market–in particular in the industry sector where an extended transition period for sensitive products could be a pressing demand from the new Brazilian president. A tit-for-tat option better than the “cars for cows” deal we are stuck in.
  • The publication of the negotiation mandate (flanking instrument included) and of the expected outcome the EC intends to reach with it, is critical to build trust and reverse the infamous records of opacity in AA negotiation processes and outcomes–at odds with the current practice of the EC in the negotiation of other association agreements. The association agreement can only be greener and accepted by the civil society if a quantum leap is made on this matter.
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