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France and Ireland threaten to vote against Mercosur deal over Brazil’s attitude to Amazon fires

Friday, 23 August, 2019 - 16:36

Ireland on Friday threatened to vote against the EU-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement if Brazil does not protect the Amazon rainforest from wild fires.

“There is no way we can tell Irish and European farmers to use fewer pesticides, less fertilizer, 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,” Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said in a statement

“I am very worried about record levels of fire destruction in the Amazon rainforest this year,” he added.

The Irish warning comes as wildfires spread rapidly in the Amazon, causing a global outcry and diplomatic repercussions. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, known for his climate change denial, has accused NGOs of being responsible for the fires.

Varadkar described Bolsonaro’s blaming of environmental groups for the environmental catastrophe as “Orwellian”.

French President Emmanuel Macron joined the Toaiseach in saying he would vote against the Merosur deal, accusing Jair Bolsonaro of lying when he committed to protect the Amazon.

“Given the attitude of Brazil in recent weeks, the President of the Republic can only note that President Bolsonaro lied to him at the (G20) summit in Osaka,” said the Elysee, adding that “President Bolsonaro has decided not to respect his climate commitments or to commit to biodiversity”. 

“In these circumstances, France opposes the Mercosur agreement as it stands,” the statement said.

Macron tweeted on Thursday about the fires ravaging the largest rainforest on the planet, calling them an “international crisis” that would be at the top of the agenda at Saturday’s G7 meeting in Biarittz.

The free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur (Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay), signed in late June after twenty years of negotiations, has been widely criticised, particularly by the agricultural sector and environmentalists.


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