Taoiseach will ‘rule out’ EU-Mercosur deal if Amazon blaze continues

The Taoiseach has said “there is no way that Ireland will vote for the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not honour its environmental commitments”.

The Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, has made the comments following his concerns that “this year has seen record levels of destruction of Amazonian forests by fire”.

According to the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), satellite data is currently showing an 85% increase in forest fires this year over the same period in 2018.

Continuing, the Taoiseach said: “There is no way we can tell Irish and European farmers to use fewer pesticides, less fertiliser, embrace biodiversity and plant more of their land and expect them to do it, if we do not make trade deals contingent on decent environmental, labour and product standards.

The political agreement on Mercosur does that. We’ll monitor closely if they mean it.

The Taoiseach described the Brazilian president Jair Messias Bolsonaro’s efforts to blame the fires on environmental NGOs as “Orwellian”.

Continuing, he said: “His statement that Brazil will stay in the Paris Accord on climate change ‘for now’ will raise antennas across Europe.”

He noted that the Mercosur deal “is two years away from a vote on approval in Europe”.

Concluding, he said: “During the course of these two years, we will monitor closely Brazil’s environmental actions.”