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Lusa - Business News - EU/Presidency: Foreign minister will try to formulate Mercosul proposals until month's end

Luxembourg,June.21,2021(Lusa)-The Portuguese presidency of the Council of the EU will try until the last day "to encourage the European Commission" to formulate concrete proposals for Mercosur partners on "clarifications" to the trade agreement negotiated, Portugal's foreign minister said on Monday.

Speaking to journalists after taking part in a Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg, during which the trade agreement with Mercosur was addressed as part of the broader discussion on the EU's relations with Latin America, Santos Silva told reporters that he had once again told his counterparts that it was now up to the Europeans to tell the Latin American partners what additional commitments they wanted, particularly as they had already shown openness.

After saying that his "expectation" is that Portugal can "make the most of the remaining days of the Portuguese presidency," he acknowledged that the answer does not depend on him, but said that he has done and will continue to do everything until 30 June, the last day of the Portuguese presidency, to contribute to the relaunch of a negotiating process that was closed.

Augusto Santos Silva commented that "concerning the agreement with Mercosur, the divisions between member states persist, but the agreement that exists between member states on the need for an additional instrument to the agreement, which clarifies reciprocal commitments, particularly in environmental matters, persists".

"We concluded those negotiations in 2019 with an agreement that the European Commission concluded on our behalf, fulfilling a mandate that we all gave it, a mandate that was not from the Commission but the Council. There the first round ended, and the second was not even necessary because the game ended with a victory for both," he noted.

However, "some member states and some political families in the European Parliament raised questions", which he acknowledged were "entirely legitimate", that force the scheduling of "a second round", given the "need for clarification of commitments by both parties concerning issues of an environmental nature, whether concerning compliance with the objectives of the Paris Agreement or concerning combating deforestation and preserving biodiversity".

"And in this case, the ball is in the European court [...] because if we tell the Latin Americans that we need to clarify some issues, it is clear that the first question they ask us is what issues they want to clarify and how they want to clarify them," he pointed out.

"Particularly in my capacity as president of the Foreign Affairs Council [on the trade side], and I also know that the High Representative [Josep Borrell] did the same thing, I addressed the Mercosur countries asking if they were available" to examine this additional instrument, "and the unanimous response was 'yes, we are available, let's go ahead'", he noted, reinforcing then that it is now up to the EU to "kick-off".

The conclusion of the trade agreement, reached in June 2019 between the EU and the Mercosur countries (Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay) after two decades of negotiations, is currently in the translation and legal review phase, at the end of which, with a political agreement of the 27, the countries of both blocs must ratify it.

Several member states, including Ireland and France, as well as MEPs and civil society organisations, have expressed strong reservations about ratifying the agreement, citing concerns over its compatibility with compliance with the Paris Agreement and the impact it will have on global warming, pointing in particular to the deforestation of the Amazon. The EU has decided to request an 'additional instrument' to the trade agreement, which has not yet begun to be negotiated with Mercosur.



Agency : LUSA

Date : 2021-06-22 10:47:00


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