The Animal Welfare Intergroup considers the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement, as it stands, to be a bad deal for animals, people and the planet

12 May 2023
On Thursday, the Intergroup met to discuss the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and why the EU needs to stop this agreement, unless it is significantly amended. We also discussed the importance of wildlife and biodiversity conservation in the Amazonia, the Pantanal and other biomes in Brazil.

The FTA foresees significant market access for beef and poultry from Mercosur countries, without any animal welfare or sustainability conditions. This unconditional market access will fuel intensive and unsustainable methods of production that have detrimental effects on farm and wild animals, people, and the environment. 

Following massive mobilisation from civil society organisations, the European Parliament in its resolution of 7 October 2020 on the implementation of the common commercial policy, “emphasized that the EU-Mercosur agreement cannot be ratified as it stands”.  

Since then, the EU Regulation on deforestation-free products (EUDR) was adopted. But while being a milestone in the fight against deforestation, it omits some elements that mean the FTA could increase trade in products that drive deforestation with Mercosur-countries. 

Indeed, the legislation ignores many biomes that, just like the Amazon rainforest, are also destroyed by intensive animal agriculture, and it also omitted other products  - such as poultry - that also contribute to deforestation.  

The additional protocol, currently being negotiated with Mercosur countries, is not likely to change the content of the FTA. Hence, the agreement will remain a bad deal for animals, people and the planet. The only way forward for this FTA, would be for the EU to take the opportunity of the revision of the animal welfare legislation and to condition imports of animal products to the EU’s animal welfare standards, as well as to negotiate ambitious cooperation mechanics with Mercosur countries, that can bring legislative change in partner countries.  

MEP Thomas Waitz (AT, Greens/EFA) made the strong point that where EU conditions are not applied to animals who are imported from Mercosur countries, it also affects European farmers who have to compete with products that didn’t have to comply with the higher EU standards. 

MEP Maria Noichl (DE, S&D) argued that we should apply the same standards of animal welfare to animals imported from Mercosur for ethical and moral reasons and not solely for farmers to remain more competitive on the EU market. She used the example of the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism Regulation (CBAM) which requires importers of certain carbon-intensive goods to pay a levy on their imports corresponding to the charge imposed on comparable domestic industries in the EU. 

Responding to a question from MEP Niels Fuglsang (DK, S&D), Mr Perez Vega informed the Intergroup that the European Parliament can still play a role by not ratifying the FTA. Furthermore MEPs should use the upcoming Animal Welfare Law to ensure that a conditionality clause on imported animals from third countries is included.