The president of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has outlined her intention to complete the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement (FTA) by the end of this year.
The controversial deal was agreed in 2019 but its ratification has been stalled due to concerns raised by member states, including Ireland.
These concerns include deforestation in Brazil, the potential impact of imports on the EU beef market and the imposition of stricter standards on EU farmers compared to primary producers in the Mercosur countries of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The deal would allow for an additional 99,000t of beef from the South America trade association to enter the EU tariff-free.
During a joint press conference with Brazilian President Lula da Silva, Ursula von der Leyen, who is currently on a tour of Latin America, said that “the agreement will create the right conditions for investment to flow”.
“We have the ambition, the two of us, to get it done as soon as possible, the latest by the end of the year. I think there are huge advantages on both sides,” she said.
The EU Commission president said that the trade deal will “help integrate and strengthen our value chains and boost the competitiveness of our industries globally”.
“This trade agreement is more than a trade agreement, I see it as a long-term engagement, as a platform for dialogue,” she added.
Earlier this year, the EU sent a letter to the Mercosur countries seeking more commitments on sustainability and climate change.
“We are very much looking forward to your answer,” von der Leyen said.
However, Brazilian President Lula da Silva said that he was concerned by the “additional instrument” presented by the EU in March which would enhance Brazil’s obligations under the trade deal.
“The premise between partners should be mutual confidence and not mistrust or sanctions,” he said.
President von der Leyen said that the EU and Brazil “share the same vision of fighting climate change and on labour rights”.
She praised Brazil’s ambition to end deforestation in the Amazon rainforest by 2030 and said that the EU would contribute €20 million to the Amazon fund.
President von der Leyen also said that the EU could “learn a lot” from Brazil in terms of renewable energy. The country is producing 87% of its electricity from renewable sources.