The EU is currently negotiating a trade agreement with the Mercosur countries (South America) to expand mutual market access. Apart from the basic criticism of the concept of European trade agreements, the situation of human rights and environmental developments in Brazil give cause for concern. Hence, civil society organisations are urging EU decision-makers to take action.
The European Union is currently negotiating the so-called Mercosur trade agreement, which includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. This agreement shall expand market access between the EU and the South American region. However, the significantly worsening human rights situation and the way natural resources are treated in Brazil gives cause for concern. In April 2019, 600 European scientists and two Brazilian Indigenous organisations had already urged the EU to adopt a globally leading role in the protection of human rights and the environment, by making sustainability a cornerstone of the trade negotiations with Brazil. Since the new Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January 2019, human rights violations and attacks on minorities, indigenous people, LGBTIQ and other communities have been on the increase. Apart from that, the President aims at ending all forms of activism. Activists or people, who want to stand up for their rights, are - due to the inflammatory rhetoric of the Bolsonaro government - under serious threat.
Apart from the deteriorating human rights situation, extremely worrying developments in respect of the environment can be observed in Brazil. The powerful cattle farming and soy agriculture companies have their way paved to enable them to accelerate their march through the world’s largest rainforest and the most biodiverse Savanna. In addition, both the Brazilian Ministry of the Environment and the Foreign Ministry deny global warming. Even if Bolsonaro has not yet carried out his threat to leave the Paris Climate Agreement, it is regarded as highly unlikely that the Brazilian government will take the necessary measures for its implementation.
Civil society organisations put pressure on the EU
Together with other civil society organisations, the AK supports the appeal of scientists and Brazilian Indigenous organisations and urges in a joint letter the European Council, the Commission and the European Parliament to use their influence to prevent any deterioration of human rights and the environmental situation in Brazil. The demand is to suspend the negotiations on the free trade agreement EU-Mercosur. Apart from that, it must be guaranteed that no Brazilian products sold in the EU result in an increase in deforestation, in seizing land of Indigenous areas or in human rights violations. The adherence to obligations from the Paris Climate Agreement must also be ensured and possible human rights violations should be monitored and if necessary directly supported by the EU. Civil society organisations have the opportunity to sign the letter until 12th June 2019.