France will not sign the EU-Mercosur agreement at “any price”

The subject has aroused the ire of farmers and environmentalists. The government tried Tuesday to reassure opponents of the draft free trade agreement concluded Friday between the European Commission and Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay), ensuring that France would judge “on documents” and would not sign “at any cost”.

The conclusion of this pact, the result of nearly twenty years of negotiations, has revived criticism and revived the concerns of farmers and environmentalists who see it as “unfair competition” and risks in terms of health and the environment.

“There will be no agreement at any price and the story is not over,” Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume said during questions to the government in the National Assembly. “The entire government and I will be vigilant. I will not be the Minister of Agriculture who sacrificed French agriculture on the altar of an international agreement.”

“This agreement cannot be signed if, in terms of beef (…), we have no certainty about traceability”, he continued. And “to destabilize the sugar industry today, it is in such difficulty, that would not be acceptable”.

A few minutes earlier, the head of French diplomacy Jean-Yves Le Drian had estimated that the haste was not “always a good adviser” and warned that France would judge “on documents”.

“Even if the provisions that we think we know about this agreement offer important economic opportunities to our exporters, we must not neglect it, the fact remains that at this moment, France asks to see”, he said. he continued, echoing the remarks made in the morning by the government spokesperson.

Guest of BFM TV-RMC, Sibeth Ndiaye had let it be known that France “for the moment does not[était] not ready to ratify “this agreement which, to enter into force, must still be ratified by each EU member state and the European Parliament.

FNSEA calls on Macron

Critics of this agreement, designed to facilitate European imports of agricultural products from Mercosur and Latin American imports of European manufactured goods, are numerous.

In the crosshairs of breeders, the arrival of 99,000 tonnes of beef per year – imposed at the preferential rate of 7.5% – from South America, provided for by this text which has not yet been made public.

In the sights of environmentalists, the conclusion of this pact with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, whose commitments in the fight against deforestation in the Amazon raise doubts.

Anger is even gaining in the ranks of the presidential majority where MP LaRem and farmer Jean-Baptiste Moreau or MP Yolaine de Courson did not hide their concerns.

“For France to approve this agreement would be the negation of all the efforts made by French farmers to improve their production methods, to produce what consumers expect,” warned the FNSEA, the leading French agricultural union, and the Young Farmers, in a letter to Emmanuel Macron.

“Our anger is great”, we can read in this letter dated Monday and in which they ask to be received by the Head of State “as soon as possible” given “the gravity of the situation”.

Coincidentally, this grumbling comes just days before the start of consideration of another controversial free trade treaty – this time between the European Union and Canada (CETA) – which will be the subject of ‘a vote on July 17 in the National Assembly.

In view of this examination, 72 organizations – defenders of the environment, professionals in the livestock sectors, consumer associations and workers’ unions – wrote to parliamentarians to “solemnly ask them not to ratify” CETA.

(With Reuters)