EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement

30 November 2004
Article

The undersigned European Non Governmental Organisations wish to express their grave concerns with regard to the proposed EU-Mercosur free trade area agreement.

Our key concerns are as follows:

1. Transparency:

The European Union and the Mercosur Area have been negotiating a free trade agreement for nine years. The clauses being set out in the articles of the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreeement will be binding to future governments and citizens of both the EU and Mercosur countries. Yet the public and national and European Parliaments have lacked access to information and details on what is actually being discussed. The lack of transparency regarding what the European Commission is negotiating causes deep concern, as well as the fact that there has also been no significant debate of the details of the agreement neither in national parliaments nor at the level of the European Parliament.

It is imperative that the contents of the discussions be released into the public domain so that the real potential impacts of measures contained in the agreement can be evaluated and discussed. Real informed public debate and parliamentary debate has not taken place.

The way the process has been managed so far leaves too much room open for certain sectors with undue influence or access to decision makers to influence the details of the agreement and lays both Mercosur and the EU open to the charge of bad governance. The lack of transparency in the negotiations call into question the legitimacy of any agreement reached in such a way.

2. Speed:

Considerable efforts have been made recently to try to get a deal settled and signed before the end of the term of the outgoing Commission on October 31st. While this deadline is no longer in place, the precedent of using excessive pressure is alarming and runs the risk of a permanent and harmful trade agreement being put in place, which threatens citizens and the environment. No proper impact assessment of the full social, economic and environmental implications has been conducted. Nevertheless the European Commission seems to be in a rush to sacrifice sustainable development to speed.

3. Principal concerns

Several of the long term impacts of the proposed agreement will have serious worrying implications for Mercosur countries. We support / echo Mercosur civil society organisations in highlighting the following key areas of concern:

  • The survival of family farmers is at stake. Increased market access will mean further incentives to large scale agribusiness, at the expense of small family farmers.
  • Mercosur's right to establish autonomous industrial policies and to use industrial policy as a tool for development is threatened.
  • Furthermore it is feared that unacceptable damage to the environment and overexploitation of natural resources will be a result of the current proposal as Mercosur countries are increasingly consigned to the role of exporters of raw materials.
  • The agreement threatens to turn water and sanitation provision as well as territorial seas into commodities. The privatisation of water is a source of considerable concern as it is a basic requirement for human life.

(For further detail on these concerns, please consult the Declaration from Mercosur Civil Society)

Hence we call on the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European National Parliaments:

  • To halt negotiations until it is clear that procedural and significant substantial changes have been made to address the concerns of European and Mercosur NGOs and civil society organisations. It is imperative that this be done in order to enable a transparent and truly participative process to take place. We urge the new Commission to address the concerns raised here.
  • Hold national sectoral consultations both in the EU countries and in Mercosur countries on the specific aspects of the proposed agreement; provide transparency as to the details of what is being negotiated
  • Hold real debate in the Commission and the European Parliament with civil society groups
  • Provide clarity as to what extent the Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIAs) has been conducted and to what extent lessons from previous SIAs in EU Trade Agreements have been learnt.

BLUE 21, Berlin Working Group on Environment and Development
Berlin GERMANY

Both ENDS
Amsterdam THE NETHERLANDS

CCFD- Comité Catholique Contre La Faim et Pour Le Développement Paris FRANCE

CNCD/Chargé "Europe"
plate-forme belge de CONCORD
Brussels BELGIUM

Friends of the Earth Europe
Brussels BELGIUM

Informationsgruppe Lateinamerika (IGLA)
Vienna AUSTRIA

11.11.11. - Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement
Brussels BELGIUM

Oxfam Solidarité
0Brussels BELGIUM

Red Puentes Holanda
Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS

SOMO Centre for Research on Multinational Corporation
Amsterdam, THE NETHERLANDS

Solidaridad
Utrecht THE NETHERLANDS

Stichting Ojalá
Amsterdam THE NETHERLANDS

Südwind Agentur / Oneworld Austria Vienna AUSTRIA

Transnational Institute
Amsterdam THE NETHERLANDS

Weltwirtschaft, Ökologie & Entwicklung e.V. (WEED)
Berlin GERMANY

WIDE - Globalising Gender Equality and Social Justice
Brussels BELGIUM

XminY
Amsterdam THE NETHERLANDS

Zuid-Noord Federatie
Amsterdam The NETHERLANDS